Speaking on Western Australia Today, Dr Steven Micklethwaite explained that his team was investigating the sea bed around Australia and decided to head to an unusual island listed on their charts.
“We checked the coastline database, you could see it there but when you zoom in on it it’s just a black blob, Google has no photos from it.
“It’s just a sort of slit in the earth so we went upstairs, and the navigation charts didn’t have it on. So who do we trust, Google Earth or the navigation chart? So we decided to sail through the island.”
Dr Micklethwaite claimed it was most likely a cartographic error but also claimed that one of the sources of the world coastline database is the CIA.
The director of charting services for the Australian Hydrographic Service has said the coastline database incorporates individual reports that are old or contain errors.
He admits that the databases are taken with a “pinch of salt” and noted that some map makers include phantom streets to combat copyright infringement.