Boaters Find Sandbar in the Middle of the Ocean. Turns Out to Be the Live Birth of an Island
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.
As they got closer, what they had taken to be a sandbar revealed itself to be something else entirely.
A huge amount of pumice stone was floating to the surface of the water. It looked like a beach.
They decided to get a closer look and redirected their yacht towards it.
It looked like a beach in the middle of the ocean!
The crew decided to sail through it, leaving a break in the stone behind them as they went.
They wondered what could have caused this expanse of stone to suddenly appear.
The field of pumice was getting even larger as they passed through it. The crew had an uneasy feeling and upped their speed.
Once they were a safe distance away, they heard a faint rumbling. Looking back they saw water bubbling from the surface.
The source of the pumice stone was an underwater volcano that was actually erupting at the time!
They anchored to watch this tremendous event. Massive plumes of smoke filled the sky.
As the smoke cleared, they noticed something strange just at the water’s surface…
It was land!
The stunned crew couldn’t believe what they were seeing: It was the actual birth of a new island.
They sailed a little bit closer to see if their eyes were playing tricks on them.
But it was real. The peaks of this new land mass were already taking form.
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.
– 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