Australian scientists aboard the R/V Southern Surveyor have made a surprising (un)discovery in the South Pacific. Earlier this year, the Southern Surveyor had sailed to the eastern coast of Australia to conduct scientific research on tectonic activity in the region. While there, the team decided to investigate a discrepancy between one of their navigational maps and the remainder of their scientific and weather maps. While the ship’s scientific and weather maps displayed the existence of Sandy Island (referred to as Sable Island on some charts), an island approximately the size of Manhattan, between Australia and New Caledonia, one of their navigational maps had no such island.
Deciding to further investigate the island’s existence, the ship sailed to Sandy Island’s coordinates. Upon the Southern Surveyor’s arrival, though, the island was found to simply not exist. The ship arrived under cover of darkness and there were initial concerns that Sandy Island was merely submerged and could ground the Southern Surveyor. This theory was quickly dispelled as depth soundings found that the ocean was 1,400 meters deep at Sandy Island’s coordinates. Some have theorized that the island simply never existed and was merely a protection against unauthorized copying of a cartographer’s map while others have asserted that the island actually exists but was misplaced on the charts.