The South Pacific Island that doesn’t exist

For years, “Sandy Island” has shown up in various maps and marine charts, including Google Earth and Google Maps. Scientists were confused, because their records showed a water depth of 1400m at that location, so they went to check it out. As they suspected, the island doesn’t exist.
There’s no telling how the island first appeared on maps, but it’s apparently been on scientific maps (and subsequently Google Earth) for many years. Here’s how the island currently appears in Google Earth:


It will likely be fixed in Google Earth very soon, but in the meantime you can view it by using
this KML file.
For more, check out the full story on the BBC website.

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. Now how would i ever trust ocean topography in Google Earth again? they could have put the island because it was there in old maps, but how do they explain the place having zero meter depth in Google Earth? there is absolutely nothing there, not even a reef.

  2. Scott Stephens says:

    I remember hearing about an old cartographer’s trick to copyright their works. They would add a small feature in an area nobody would ever use. If another map showed that feature, it was evidence that their work had been copied. This might be a remnant of that trick.

  3. Cartographers will almost always put those on land portions of waterway charts. Placing false information in a navigable waterway is potentially dangerous and not what professional cartographers would typically do.
    BTW, Google uses data from various sources and clearly their source for this information was trusted by many other serious organizations as erroneous as it turned out to be.

  4. Dave Timpe says:

    There’s real island in Lake Superior (admittedly a small one) I can’t find on GE. It’c called Stannard Rock, and it has a lighthouse on it, but all you see is a shoal in the lake NW of Marquette.
    Lots of maps recopy street errors as well. Marinette, WI seems particularly prone to the problem.

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