Google Earth Sleuthing – Burning Ship?

It’s amazing what the combination of Google Earth’s huge resource of satellite and aerial photos and the Internet can do. A few months ago someone noticed a very small satellite photo of a remote area of ocean near Iceland where a boat or ship appeared to be burning with some other boats nearby. ‘earthling_andre’ posted a placemark and his thoughts at the Google Earth Community.
A bunch of people speculated, and then a few weeks later someone named ‘solskin’ posted that the satellite photo was indeed showing a burning boat, and the one occupant was rescued by the two boats in the scene. He posted a link to a news story in icelandic, which was followed a few days later by an English translation found here. Apparently two helicopters also came out to help as well.
What I find interesting is that a scene of drama is captured in a random satellite photo, discovered by someone browsing, and the mystery is solved by people all over the world. Amazing!

This blog is dedicated to Google Earth news, tips, technology, applications, and more. Here are some other interesting stories from this blog:

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. Almost unbeleivable….
    There was alot of cool discoveries on google earth, some guy even spotted a 2nd world war bomber flying over a major british city (don’t remember the name), but I’ve read that on “the register”.

  2. This is amazing. This truely shows what an internet community is capable of.

  3. Does Google Earth have a schedule that they stick to, that would let us know when and where they will take and post there next picture. I have a few marketing campaigns that would pay big bucks to see there logo on Google Earth.

  4. Wow, this is certainly a wonderful coincidence.

  5. That IS amazing. Such a big world, yet so small. The way the ‘net brings people closer never ceases to amaze me.

  6. That’s cool, but it is true???

  7. Rallentando says:

    That is incredible. Truley a mad coincidence.
    Imagine a ‘Live’ google earth

  8. @Steve: AFAIK, Google doesn’t have their own satellites (at the moment, anyway), but rather they make use of public domain data made available by the US government. This means it may be somewhat difficult to predict when a given area is going to be next updated.

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