Category: 

How Reliable Are World Maps?

Beginning in the late 1800s, maps of the area between Australia and the French territory of New Caledonia showed a place called Sandy Island. In 2012, a group of Australian scientists aboard the research vessel Southern Surveyor went searching for the mysterious island in the eastern Coral Sea, but couldn’t find it. So, despite having existed on nautical charts and maps for over a hundred years, the island had ceased to exist. Researchers now think that it never existed at all.

When an island is not an island:

  • The Sandy Island error was blamed on the crew of the whaling ship Velocity, which originally recorded the land mass in 1876.

  • Shaun Higgins of the Auckland Museum says that the whaling ship’s crew reported a series of “heavy breakers” and some “sandy islets” on a nautical chart. Over time, these areas became an island on official maps.

  • “My supposition is that they simply recorded a hazard at the time,” Higgins said. “They might have recorded a low-lying reef or thought they saw a reef. They could have been in the wrong place.”

Follow wiseGEEK:
  twitter

More Info: The Washington Post

Discuss this Article

anon996640
Post 1

Amazing. Makes one wonder how many other things are wrong on our maps?

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email

Free Widgets for your Site/Blog

President Richard Nixon had an entire speech prepared in case the Apollo 11 astronauts became stranded on the Moon.  more...
 
December 8 ,  1965 :  Pope Paul VI promulgated Vatican II into ecumenical law.  more...