How Non-Existent Island Wound Up on Google Maps

Comedians Jay Foreman and Mark Cooper-Jones of Map Men took a look at a phantom (non-existent) island in the South Pacific that was “discovered” by Captain Cook and geographically plotted on Google Maps until 2012.

 ….this is the location of an island discovered by Captain Cook in 1774. Cook was sailing in the South Pacific doing what he did best – Looking out for land either small enough to be a crash hazard or big enough to colonise. And he succeeded, successfully spotting a small and previously unknown sandy island. …he named it Sandy Island. Sandy Island went on to appear on lots of maps, right up until 2012. But it oughtn’t have. Because it turns out Sandy island has never, and never has, existed.

In explaining this phenomenon, they talked about the definition of a phantom island, the reasons why these islands appear, and gave examples of other phantom islands around the world.

Sandy island is what’s known as a “phantom Island” an island that’s marked on  maps and believed to be real but which was never actually there. …And how did this mistake go uncorrected for so many hundreds of years right into the age of satellites? The best way to answer that  is by looking at lots of famous examples of phantom  islands throughout history each with their own explanations.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.