Mar 7, 2016

Boaters Find Sandbar in the Middle of the Ocean. Turns Out to Be the Live Birth of an Island

boaters-witness-birth-of-an-island-underwater-volcano-(cover)

 

On August 12, 2006, Captain Fredrik Fransson and the crew aboard the Maiken were sailing in the South Pacific Ocean when they came across a truly bizarre sight—at first glance it appeared to be a sandbar in the middle of the ocean…

 

Below you will find a recount of the once-in-a-lifetime experience along with photos and an update from Discover Magazine. You can find the original blog posts and photos here and here. The recount below was originally published on Reddit / Imgur.

 

boaters witness birth of an island underwater volcano (2)

 

As they got closer, what they had taken to be a sandbar revealed itself to be something else entirely.

 

boaters witness birth of an island underwater volcano (3)

 

A huge amount of pumice stone was floating to the surface of the water. It looked like a beach.

 

boaters witness birth of an island underwater volcano (4)

 

They decided to get a closer look and redirected their yacht towards it.

 

boaters witness birth of an island underwater volcano (5)

 

It looked like a beach in the middle of the ocean!

 

boaters witness birth of an island underwater volcano (6)

 

The crew decided to sail through it, leaving a break in the stone behind them as they went.

 

boaters witness birth of an island underwater volcano (7)

 

They wondered what could have caused this expanse of stone to suddenly appear.

 

boaters witness birth of an island underwater volcano (8)

 

The field of pumice was getting even larger as they passed through it. The crew had an uneasy feeling and upped their speed.

 

boaters witness birth of an island underwater volcano (9)

 

Once they were a safe distance away, they heard a faint rumbling. Looking back they saw water bubbling from the surface.

 

boaters witness birth of an island underwater volcano (10)

 

The source of the pumice stone was an underwater volcano that was actually erupting at the time!

 

boaters witness birth of an island underwater volcano (11)

 

They anchored to watch this tremendous event. Massive plumes of smoke filled the sky.

 

boaters witness birth of an island underwater volcano (12)

 

As the smoke cleared, they noticed something strange just at the water’s surface…

 

boaters witness birth of an island underwater volcano (13)

 

It was land!

 

boaters witness birth of an island underwater volcano (14)

 

The stunned crew couldn’t believe what they were seeing: It was the actual birth of a new island.

 

boaters witness birth of an island underwater volcano (15)

 

They sailed a little bit closer to see if their eyes were playing tricks on them.

 

boaters witness birth of an island underwater volcano (16)

 

But it was real. The peaks of this new land mass were already taking form.

 

boaters witness birth of an island underwater volcano (17)

 

In an update one year after the unbelievable event, Discover Magazine reported that the island had disappeared, lasting for roughly four months before being swallowed by the ocean. Before then, the island had grown to 240-ft in height and was still venting sulfur gases in December of 2006.

However, when volcanologist Scott Bryan of London’s Kingston University went to investigate the island in February of 2007, he found the island—originally over a tenth of a mile square—had almost completely vanished.

You can read more at Discover Magazine.

 

Sources

Fredrik and Crew on Maiken: Whales and volcanoes.
Fredrik and Crew on Maiken: Stone sea and volcano
Reddit: When you find a sandbar in the middle of the ocean…
Imgur: When you find a sandbar in the middle of the ocean…
Snopes: Birth of an Island
Discover: Watching the Birth—and Death—of an Island

 

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