'Non-existent' Pacific island is found again - in map from 1908

Rob Waugh
The map - seen on Google Earth, has now been found in a map from 1908 (Image: Auckland Museum)

The Pacific island which was 'undiscovered' last week after scientists found it did not exist has popped up again - this time on a map from long before the satellite era.

The 'phantom' island has shown up on an antique map from 1908 in Auckland museum.

Some reports dismissed the island - seen on Google Earth in the Coral Sea - as a product of our over-reliance on satellite imagery.

The island was found in a map from 1908, among Auckland Museum's collection of maps which dates back as far as the 1700s.

"After a bit of searching Shaun found a 1908 map which shows the island (and it appears to be almost as big as Great Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf)," the museum staff wrote in a blog post.

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"According to our map (visit our Flickr site to see the entire map) the island was discovered by the Velocity in 1876.

"But there is a generic note on the map which warns: “Caution is necessary while navigating among the low lying islands of the Pacific Ocean. The general details have been collated from the voyages of various navigators extending over a long series of years.

"The relative position of many dangers may therefore not be exactly given.”

The island in the Coral Sea was shown as Sandy Island on Google Earth and Google Maps and is supposedly midway between Australia and French-governed New Caledonia.

The Times Atlas of the World also features the mysterious island, identifying it as Sable Island.

Dr Maria Seton, of the survey team which 'undiscovered' the island said,  "We wanted to check it out because the navigation charts on board the ship showed a water depth of 1,400 metres (4,620 feet) in that area -- very deep."

"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.

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