Mystery of the vanishing island

A team of scientists from Australia decided to go check out Sandy Island in the Pacific Ocean east of Australia. By looking at the map and seeing its location, it seemed that Sandy Island would probably belong to France (there is a group of islands close to Sandy called the New Caledonia which is a French territory). Its size according to Google Maps was about 15 miles (25 km) by 3 miles (5 km). The scientists got there, and lo and behold, there was no island! The island shows up on many maps, including some scientific maps and Google maps, and has been there for at least a decade. However, it doesn’t show up on French maps. After the Australian scientists reported that Sandy doesn’t exist, a librarian at a famous museum in New Zealand went through old maps, and found a map from 1908 that shows Sandy Island on it.

How did Sandy Island make its way to some of these maps? It’s a mystery still to be solved. Was it a mistake that was simply copied over and over again? Sometimes, people who make maps put in small unnoticeable mistakes on purpose. Then if somebody copies their work, they can catch them. Was Sandy Island one of those ‘mistakes’ that was added to the map? Or does Sandy Island exist, except it was misplaced on the map?

Many are referring to “Sandy” as the “Atlantis”. The story of the Island of Atlantis was written by a famous Greek philosopher Plato about 2,500 years ago. According to Plato, Atlantis existed about 10,000 years ago, and a very advanced society lived on the island. Atlantis was destroyed in one day, and the island sank into the water. Many people have searched for Atlantis, but haven’t found it. Most people believe that Atlantis was not real, and was just a legend.

Did you know? Disney has a movie based on the Island of Atlantis called “Atlantis: The Lost Empire”. Here is a preview for it.


Image Credits: University of Sydney for Sandy Island’s image, Auckland Museum for the map showing Sandy Island