Phantom Islands

Phantom Islands

Sounds eerie huh! Islands with phantoms and spirits loitering around? But there is nothing spooky about  phantom islands except their name ;)

Phantom island is a word that is commonly used for an island that is marked on historical maps, but does not exist in real. These historical maps were drawn a few centuries ago. But where did they go? How did they disappear?

Actually they never existed in the first place. So these imaginary islands, were removed from the maps.

But what could have made sailors or explorers believe that these absent islands were present? Today’s scientists have many different theories about it.

  • Mistakes in geography could have resulted in such mapping. There is a possibility that the actual islands were wrongly mapped. Phantom Island Pepys was in fact the Falkland Islands in Atlantic Ocean.
  • Sometimes icebergs, fog banks were wrongly mapped as islands.
  • Some errors were probably done on purpose. Once in a while explorers mapped non existent islands and named them in honor of  influential government ministers to make them happy. This minister in return granted them money for exploration voyages.
  • Although many phantom islands never  existed, few like Thompson Island or Bermeja may have been actual islands that were destroyed by volcanic explosions, earthquakes or landslides.

Very recently, Sandy Island in South Pacific Ocean, between Australia and New Caledonia was found to be non existing. Interestingly this island was marked clearly on Google Maps and other world maps like National Geographic’s, till as recently as November 26 2012. It has now been declared a phantom island.

Do you know about any phantom island?

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