An uncanny, dark mass of an island on Google Earth made waves on social media as some users went wild with their imagination and suggested it was a “censored” destination.
The image of Vostok Island, an uninhabited coral island in the Pacific Ocean raised eyebrows after it was shared to a popular Reddit page about unusual Google Maps finds. The page boasts more than 40,0000 members who discuss strange discoveries on Google Maps, Google Earth, and Google Street View. Conspiracy theorists couldn’t help themselves speculate about the island, considering Google has been known to blur out sensitive locations including prisons, military bases, nuclear facilities, and other critical infrastructure sites, the New York Post reported.
It was Redditor Kokoblocks who first shared a screengrab of the triangular island with what appeared to be a black center. “What the f–k this looks nothing like an island,” they wrote alongside the post. A number of users responded with satirical theories as one sleuth provided additional information on the island. “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,” they explained.
However, some speculated that it could be a secret military base. “Looks censored for some reason,” user KorvisKhan wrote. “It almost seems deliberately altered,” user cartoonsandbeers added. Meanwhile, user Jazzlike_Log_709 said their “first thought was that it’s censored. It wouldn’t make sense for a natural formation to be black like that in such a shallow, small atoll/island.”
Observers became even more skeptical of Google’s choice to keep the image dark after 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 landmass, according to the National Post. On the other hand, some Redditors joked how Google’s rendition of the tiny landmass resembled far more ordinary objects. “Scrolling past I thought it was a hole on a leather seat,” user Flobber_Worm quipped.
The island, with the coordinates 10.06 ° S, 152.31°W, was first discovered by the decorated Russian explorer Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen in 1820, according to a Cambridge University publication. Von Bellingshausen name the island after his ship Vostok, which means East in Russian. That said, while geographical experts are yet to comment on the confusion surrounding Google Maps’ rendering of Vostok Island, this is barely the first time the company’s satellite imagery has sparked debate.
MEAWW previously reported how a Google Earth user discovered what was described as a ‘400 ft ice ship’ lying in an iceberg located about 100 miles from the coast. The huge ice structure resembling a cruise liner with windows and chimneys was picked up on Google Earth south of New Zealand. “You look down on it and it looks like the outline of a ship,” the user wrote of the structure. “This measures 400ft long, whatever that looks like it looks like a ship. An ice ship if you want to call it – a 400ft yacht just sitting there off the coast of Antarctica.” The Google Earth sleuth also suggested there was a purpose behind it. “Looks like a random iceberg but one part looks like it’s built with purpose, looks like an entryway, and the symmetrical features look like it has been created,” They added, “It doesn’t look random but as if it had a purpose.”