Mysterious Sandy Island Mapped on Google Does Not Exist

First Posted: Nov 25, 2012 12:42 PM EST

A mysterious Pacific island identified on Google Earth does not seem to exist in reality.

A team of Australian scientists spent 25 days on an expedition along the Coral Sea, looking for the mysterious island named as "Sandy island" that is identified on Google maps as well as the Times Atlas of the World, and other online services like Bing and Yahoo.

The island was alleged to have been located between Australia and the French-governed New Caledonia. Despite the island being marked on the weather map used by Southern Surveyor, an Australian maritime research vessel that was involved in the search, researchers were not able to spot it.

After reaching the place, navigation charts showed that the area has water depths of over 4,500 feet, but there was no sign of any island, a report in AFP said. "We wanted to check it out because the navigation charts on board the ship showed a water depth of 1,400m in that area," Dr. Maria Seton, from the University of Sydney, told the AFP news agency.

"It's on Google Earth and other maps so we went to check and there was no island. We're really puzzled. It's quite bizarre. How did it find its way onto the maps? We just don't know, but we plan to follow up and find out," she said.

The island has been marked on world maps at least for the last ten years. It is not clear as to how a non-existent island made it to the world maps, but some experts suggest that mapmakers add phantom islands to avoid copyright infringements.

Seton and her colleagues are planning to follow up and resolve the mystery.

Meanwhile, search engine giant Google has welcomed feedback and updates on the island in order to give latest information to users.

"[Google] continuously explore(s) ways to integrate new information from our users and authoritative partners into Google Maps. We work with a wide variety of authoritative public and commercial data sources to provide our users with the richest, most up-to-date maps possible," a Google spokesman told AFP.

"One of the exciting things about maps and geography is that the world is a constantly changing place, and keeping on top of these changes is a never-ending endeavor," he said.

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