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November 22, 2012 7:20 AM   Subscribe

Sandy Island is in the Coral Sea, between New Calendonia and Australia, and is visible on Google maps. The only problem is it doesn't exist.
posted by notme (38 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I blame the cloudmonster.
posted by Bromius at 7:28 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


My first thought was that it was a copyright trap that somehow got propagated widely, but the article discounts that possibility. Interesting.
posted by asnider at 7:30 AM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


the article discounts that possibility.

It doesn't - it just suggests that doing so is unusual for nautical charts; it's interesting that it may be possible to trace that information back, though, to its original falsifier.
posted by mhoye at 7:33 AM on November 22, 2012


I bet that's what happened to Atlantis, too.
posted by Foosnark at 7:36 AM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Goodnight, Lillian Virginia Mountweazel - wherever you are.
posted by Smart Dalek at 7:36 AM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is obviously viral marketing for DC's inevitable Aquaman trilogy.
posted by oulipian at 7:39 AM on November 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


"'The world is a constantly changing place, and keeping on top of these changes is a never-ending endeavour,’ Mr Naghdy said."

Bullshit. That's the worst excuse for esquivalience I've ever heard.
posted by griphus at 7:44 AM on November 22, 2012 [45 favorites]


That's the worst excuse for esquivalience I've ever heard.

OK, that deserves some applause.
posted by mhoye at 7:46 AM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


That's exactly what They want you to believe.
posted by tommasz at 7:50 AM on November 22, 2012


Google Streetview.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:55 AM on November 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Stranded at the drive in
Branded a fool
What will they say
Monday at school?

Sandy, can't you see
I'm in misery?
You made a start, now we're apart
There's nothing left for me

Love has flown all alone
I sit and wonder why, oh?
Why you left me, oh Sandy

Oh Sandy, baby, someday
When high school is done
Somehow, someway
Our two worlds will be one

In Heaven forever
And ever we will be
Oh please, say you'll stay
Oh Sandy

Sandy my darlin', you hurt me real bad
You know it's true
But baby you gotta believe me when I say
I'm helpless without you

Love has flown all alone
I sit I wonder why
Why you left me, oh Sandy?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:59 AM on November 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


To be fair, hideous ruined cities rise and sink in that part of the world with a distressing regularity. Usually they are know by slightly more outre names, but I suppose, though the great turning of cosmic orthography, any one might become known as "Sandy." Perhaps the next time it lurches to the surface, we may have cause to regret this jesting.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:04 AM on November 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'm totally sure that a dissapearing island and the, oh of course it's true and not planted by The Powers That Be at all, story that the 'Bloop' is harmless are not connected in any way... Cthulhu fhtagn!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:14 AM on November 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Take out any of your nautical charts and actually read the fine print, many of the soundings are from decades or even centuries ago. Now here's a barren strip of land in the middle of nowhere, if you are not a survey vessel you'll chart your course to stay well off, never seeing anything and being quite content to have avoided a navigation hazard.

So someone made a mistake that was propagated repeatedly.

Or, it's the actual submerged location of the massive hydraulically activated super secret location of the sinking headquarters of the Illuminati!
posted by sammyo at 8:19 AM on November 22, 2012


None of this explains why "Sandy Island" is a scribbled-out blob on Google's satellite imagery. Somebody did that intentionally... but why? What possible use could there be for an imaginary island?
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:31 AM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


First they came for Pluto,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a resonant trans-Neptunian object...
posted by oulipian at 8:31 AM on November 22, 2012 [11 favorites]


That's right out of LOST....
posted by coust at 8:38 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


It doesn't - it just suggests that doing so is unusual for nautical charts.

True enough, but from the phrasing in the article I assume that it is very unlikely to be the case since this is not common practice for nautical charts. However, since the island apparently only started showing up on charts in about 2000, maybe it is a copyright trap created by someone who is less familiar with the conventions of nautical cartography?
posted by asnider at 8:43 AM on November 22, 2012


Just throwing a guess out about the "satellite" function on google maps but the thing is, you're not seeing imagery of the surrounding area, you're seeing bathymetry. Their mapping software is probably set not to display bathymetry inside "coastlines", and instead to display whatever their best aerial imagery is. Nobody has ever taken aerial imagery of that blank spot of ocean, so you get black.
posted by agentofselection at 8:45 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm so tempted to upload random beach photos to Flickr and Panoramio and geotag them in a way that they appear to be from that island.
posted by dominik at 8:58 AM on November 22, 2012 [15 favorites]


agentofselection : Their mapping software is probably set not to display bathymetry inside "coastlines", and instead to display whatever their best aerial imagery is. Nobody has ever taken aerial imagery of that blank spot of ocean, so you get black.

That explains the "island"-proper (which looks bizarrely redacted in the satellite view), but not the coastal shallows surrounding the black area.

Then again, with Google it wouldn't surprise me if it annoyed them so much that their data didn't match reality that they photoshopped reality to match the maps. :)
posted by pla at 9:11 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I suspect this is, in fact, the lair of the next Bond villain, who has fiendishly plotted to make his dastardly tropical headquarters impossible to find.

His next move will be to erase New Zealand and to see if anybody notices.

He must be karate chopped and fed to a vicious shoal of giant squid immediately.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:18 AM on November 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sure it doesn't exist. And no secret facilities don't exist on it either.
posted by angerbot at 9:25 AM on November 22, 2012


Here's some cold hard idle speculation for you - "Sandy Island" sounds remarkably like the cheesy names of the countries the military is preparing to attack in training exercise these days (in lieu of doing something like War Plan Red where we practice attacking our bestest ally ever and then giggling about it during NATO meetings). Plus moving ships around an "island" that is actually deep ocean means no chance of running into things that are not ocean at cruising speed when your charts and reality don't quite line up.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:42 AM on November 22, 2012


It cannot be found by those who already know where it is.
posted by Pastor of Muppets at 9:42 AM on November 22, 2012


Elugelab is another island that isn't there any more. Coincidence? I think not.
posted by localroger at 10:11 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is more weirdness in Google's map of the Coral Sea.

Most of the depth data Google uses came from satellite surveys which approximate the depth of the ocean by exactly measuring the sea height; the local deformation of the geoid can be used to estimate how much of what lies beneath is lighter water rather than heavier rock. That's why it's fairly smooth; this is not a very high-resolution technique, but there is nearly global coverage.

If you look just north of Sandy Island you'll see a little strip of higher resolution bottom imagery, which probably represents sounding data from a research vessel. If you look around you can find more of these.

But just to the left/west, there are several irregular areas which look like they might be seamount plateaus which are represented by satellite photography instead of depth data. They're shaped like an archipelago, but aren't islands; they are blue ocean surface in the pictures and don't show on the map.

And "Sandy Island" appears to be atop a seamount of similar appearance.

It would be interesting to get the numerical depth data for that area, but I can't seem to find it online.
posted by localroger at 10:28 AM on November 22, 2012


I would have found it much more interesting were it the opposite: an island not showing up on Google maps or other map sources, even satellite, despite it being present in the ocean, clearly visible to those traveling nearby.
posted by davejay at 12:13 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is a small island just north of Penang in the south China sea that appears on satellite view but not on a map. I was excited to discover this after I visited it.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 1:50 PM on November 22, 2012


There's a famous story (mostly told by Greeks and Israelis from what I can tell) about a similar mythical island, Malta, :
In any case, both gazoz and the kova tembel are now yok — itself a somewhat outdated Israeli slang term meaning “forget about it” that comes from the Turkish word for “there isn’t any.” And to say “Forgeddaboudit!” there is malta yok, an expression with an amusing history. In the year 1645, the story goes, the Ottoman sultan Ibrahim the Mad ordered his fleet to attack the Christian island of Malta in the western Mediterranean. Upon receiving the order, however, Ibrahim’s chief admiral, fearing such a move would end in disaster, placed a candle on his naval map, allowed the wax drippings to fall on the little island until they covered it, declared to his adjutants “Malta yok,” and sailed off to attack the Venetians in Crete. The siege of Crete lasted 24 years, in the third of which Ibrahim lost his head, and the Venetians finally surrendered in 1669.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:52 PM on November 22, 2012


I don't know why, but every time I look at satellite imagery of the middle of the ocean in Google Maps, I start to get this deep irrational fear welling up inside me. There's something about the infinite expanse of dark blue with the weird creases and protrusions... I sort of feel like as I browse this endless uninhabited seascape in my browser, I might suddenly chance upon some unspeakable horror lurking in the waves, unknown to all but the person who accidentally stumbled upon its image on their computer.
posted by destrius at 9:46 PM on November 22, 2012


Ah, now I remember why this has been ringing bells for me all day: TXØDX Challenges National Geographic.

I had in mind that at the time they'd gone looking & found it not there, but it seems they'd determined the island didn't exist beforehand, and checked out some other potential island reefs instead.
posted by Pinback at 12:44 AM on November 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


We've got one something like that in Italy, too. Now, if we could persuade the delightful Dr Seton to come and explore that one...
posted by aqsakal at 3:57 AM on November 23, 2012


The recent article on Yahoo adds that the depth measured by the research vessel as it sailed through the "island" was over 4,000 feet. So no, it's not some kind of surface artifact.

Still wondering what the deal is with the photo archipelago to the west on Google Maps.
posted by localroger at 7:29 PM on November 23, 2012


"Sandy Island does exist - on a 1908 chart"
posted by Deathalicious at 10:57 PM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kid Charlemagne: "(in lieu of doing something like War Plan Red where we practice attacking our bestest ally ever and then giggling about it during NATO meetings)"

No love for Defence Scheme No. 1?
posted by Chrysostom at 11:50 AM on November 27, 2012


Deathalicious : Sandy Island does exist - on a 1908 chart

Well then, that fits! Because, you know what happened in 1926-1927, right?
posted by pla at 5:53 PM on November 27, 2012


Excellent writeup at Strange Maps.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:13 AM on November 29, 2012


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