“It wouldn’t make sense for a natural formation to be black like that in such a shallow, small atoll/island”
Theories abound as Redditors speculate over an ominous ‘black hole’ in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
This page of more than 40,000 members discuss all things Google Maps, Google Earth and Google Street View, where such occurrences aren’t particularly unfamiliar. Google has been known to blur out sensitive locations such as military bases, prisons, islands, nuclear facilities, among other confidential sites.
“This looks nothing like an island,” said the original poster kokoblocks on the subreddit.
While some netizens offered satirical theories, one internet sleuth provided additional information on the tiny piece of land. “It’s an island called Vostok Island that belongs to the glorious Republic of Kiribati, what you see as black is actually very dark green, it’s a very dense forest made up of Pisonia trees.”
Some, however, are not convinced of this explanation. “It almost seems deliberately altered,” questions user cartoonsandbeers . “It wouldn’t make sense for a natural formation to be black like that in such a shallow, small atoll/island,” added user Jazzlike_Log_709.
A 2012 report by The Secretariat of the Pacific Community discussed how the land mapping of Vostok Island using GeoEye featured a clear aerial image of the small land mass, making users more skeptical of Google’s choice to keep the image dark.
According to a Cambridge University publication, the island, with the coordinates of 10.06 ° S, 152.31°W, was first sighted in 1820 by the Russian explorer Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen, who named the island for his ship Vostok, which means East in Russian. It is an uninhabited coral island in the central Pacific Ocean, part of the Line Islands belonging to Kiribati.
While no geographical expert has clarified the confusion surrounding Google Maps’ rendering of Vostok Island, this is not the first, nor the last subject of the company’s satellite imagery mysteries.