Origins of ‘Sandy Island’ Revealed, Missing Island Case Now Closed

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | December 4, 2012 5:37 PM EST

And now it can be told. The hoax that is the Sandy Island off the South Pacific really never actually existed.

The new discovery this time was uncovered by Shaun Higgins, a pictorial librarian at Auckland Museum, who claimed all the hoopla over Sandy Island erupted from the original error made by a whaling ship in 1876.

In an interview with ABC Radio Australia's 'Pacific Beat,' Mr Higgins said a whaling ship named Velocity registered the "presence" of Sandy Island. He explained Velocity's ship master reported a series of "heavy breakers" and some "Sandy Islets".

"My supposition is that they simply recorded a hazard at the time," he said. "They might have recorded a low-lying reef or thought they saw a reef. They could have been in the wrong place. There is all number of possibilities."

"But what we do have is a dotted shape on the map that's been recorded at that time and it appears its simply been copied over time," Mr Higgins said.

In November, a group of Australian scientists went to check out the Sandy Island, supposedly located between Australia and New Caledonia. Despite being visible on marine charts and world maps, even on Google Earth, for over a hundred years, the group was astounded when it found nothing but the blue ocean waters on the spot where the island should have been.

The missing island was also identified as Sable Island by the Times Atlas of the World.

It is also be possible that Velocity may not be the original source of the error of Sandy Island's supposed existence, but Mr Higgins said this would entail a massive and possibly years-long exhaustive search to review every ancient map just to trace the first blooper.

"The chart does give a disclaimer that says some of the information is not completely reliable," Mr Higgins said.

Sandy Island has now been deleted from Google Earth maps.

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