- French Polynesia is home to an atoll called Mururoa which forms part of the Tuamotu Archipelago
- One half of Mururoa has been mysteriously blurred out by Google and is not visible
- The atoll has an alarming history with nuclear testing which began in the sixties
Google Maps has captured an uninhabited atoll found within French Polynesia in the South Pacific. But there is something unusual about this mysterious atoll – it is no ordinary tropical island. The right side of Mururoa looks entirely ordinary when viewed on Google Earth. But the left side of the atoll, when looking at the map, has been blurred out by Google.
What secret could Mururoa be hiding that led Google Earth to hide the atoll?
Due to the blurring, it’s nigh impossible to ascertain what lies beneath.
This is because, for three decades, Mururoa, which is part of the Tuamotu Archipelago, was used for large-scale nuclear testing.
The island was first used for nuclear testing in 1966 by France.
Some of the explosions were 200 times the strength of the bombs dropped by the United States on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, reported Radio NZ.
A study by Greenpeace found that it contaminated the water as far as Peru and New Zealand, with radiation levels of 12 millirems reported.
Many locals in Tahiti are also fighting for recognition that they have suffered from radiation thanks to the tests, according to Radio NZ.
Other nuclear tests were rumoured to have taken place up until 1996, which ended after former French president Jacques Chirac dismantled the nuclear testing facilities.
Chirac said live on the radio that “the safety of our country and of our children is assured,” according to the BBC.
The island remains a no-go zone and is guarded by French forces which could suggest why it has been blurred out.
This is far from the only time an island has been blurred out by Google Earth.
Far off the coast of Russia in the East Siberian Sea lies Jeanette Island – but Google users cannot see it as the island has been blurred out.
The small rock outcrop was discovered in 1881 in an expedition led by American Navy officer and explorer George E. De Long who hoped to discover open seas in the Arctic Ocean near the North Pole.
However, several years later, following the Imperial Russian Arctic Ocean Hydrographic Expedition of 1910–1915, the Russian ambassador in London announced that Jeanette island, along with other Arctic islands, were part of the Russian Empire.
The Soviet Union later maintained its territorial claim. Administratively it now belongs to the Sakha Republic of the Russian Federation.
The US never followed up the claim made by De Long and today recognises it as Russian territory.
Another island, Sandy Island, off the coast of Australia, shows up on Google – yet it actually doesn’t exist.
It was first recorded in 1876 by a whaling ship called the Velocity. Sandy Island, in the South Pacific, is roughly the size of Manhattan, reported Live Science. It was included on numerous charts and maps for over around one hundred years.