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Scientists un-discover Pacific island

Friday 23 Nov 2012 8:20 a.m.

Topographical map showing the former location of Sandy Island

Topographical map showing the former location of Sandy Island

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By Dan Satherley

A Pacific Island supposedly located halfway between Australia and New Caledonia has been proven not to exist.

Scientists from the University of Sydney were on their way to visit Sandy Island, as its known on Google Maps, but when they got there found only ocean, reports BBC News.

"We wanted to check it out because the navigation charts on board the ship showed a water depth of 1,400m in that area - very deep," says Dr Maria Seton.

"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."

If Sandy Island existed, it would fall under French jurisdiction due to its proximity to New Caledonia, but French maps had nothing.

A spokesperson from Australia's Hydrographic Service said map makers sometimes include fake streets in order to prevent copyright infringement, but it was rare for this to happen on a nautical chart.

The service said it was possibly just an error that had been repeated down the years. Sandy Island has appeared on maps for the last decade.

"The world is a constantly changing place" said a spokesperson for Google, "and keeping on top of these changes is a never-ending endeavour."

The case is reminiscent of the hit TV show Lost, in which character Benjamin Linus at one point makes the island disappear completely by moving it to a different location, leaving behind only ocean.

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