Google Maps fooled by ‘phantom island’ which may never have existed

A 'phantom island' in the middle of the Pacific Ocean may have actually never existed despite showing up on Google Maps.

Located off the coast of Australia, Sandy Island was first discovered in 1774 by British explorer James Cook who spotted what he thought to be a 14 mile-long stretch of land.

You'd think that it would be hard to confuse an island that big, but bizarrely that's exactly what happened as Australian researchers eventually proved the island never existed.

After it was 'discovered', Sandy Island infiltrated the maps of the world and for hundreds of years, it was taken as fact that it existed despite nobody having ever set foot on it.

Then in 2012, a group of Australian researchers finally decided to put the myth to bed and set out to conclusively prove the island was a figment of nautical imagination.

When they arrived at Sandy Island they found exactly nothing and immediately published the news that the phantom island was no more.

The paper titled 'Sandy Island: An Obituary' finally disproved the notion that the sandy idyll had ever existed.

In the study, they concluded: "While on a transit leg between dredge sites, the ship passed near a purported island between the Chesterfield Islands and Nereus Reef that appeared in numerous scientific data sets and in Google Earth™ with the label “Sandy Island.”

"However, this 25-kilometer-long and 5-kilometer-wide feature was absent from the hydrographic charts used by the master onboard the ship for navigation."

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In response to the findings, Google Earth officially removed the fictional island from its servers and suddenly it was gone.

Hypothesizing on the reasons why so many sailors had claimed to have seen the imaginary island, the scientists decided it was due to human error or potentially mistaking a pumice raft for land.

It makes more sense than the island being swallowed up by the sea, but it would have to be a pretty big raft!

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