A handful of locations on Google Maps have been purposefully “obscured,” for obvious reasons, such as air bases or missile silos. Nonetheless, these occurrences never fail to fuel the user’s fever of conjecture.
Users’ discovery on Google Maps that a distant stretch of ice terrain belonging to Russia seems to be “censored” has sparked a slew of conspiracy theories, SputnikNews writes.
Jeannette Island is part of the De Long Island archipelago in the East Siberian Sea, spanning about 1.2 square miles or around three square kilometers in length. According to photos supplied to Google by The International Bathymetric Chart of the Arctic Ocean, it appears as an alarming black smudge on the digital map tool.
The IBCAO project, launched in 1997, seeks to create a digital data bank including all accessible bathymetric data north of 64° North. In 2017, IBCAO combined its work with the Nippon Foundation-GEBCO-Seabed 2030 Project, with the ultimate goal of mapping the worldwide seabed by 2030.
The search engine behemoth has made no remark on the matter.
The finding, however, has sparked conspiracy theories ranging from the black blob potentially hiding a secret Russian military facility, radar, or naval station to the island being populated by aliens.
One Reddit member, exoplanetaryscience, said on the site:
“Google seldom lights out for no apparent reason. A Google Earth search reveals that this has been permanently blacked away, even in photos going back to the 1980s… I’m guessing there’s a hidden Russian military facility there, and perhaps a significant one at that.”
Jeannette Island was found in 1881 as part of a failed attempt to reach the North Pole through the Bering Strait headed by American Navy officer and explorer George E. De Long.
De Long had been caught in heavy ice near Herald Island and was drifting when he came upon Jeanette Island. The explorers sought refuge on the deserted island, naming it after their ship, the USS Jeanette, and claiming ownership of the continent in the name of the United States.
However, after the Imperial Arctic Ocean Hydrographic Expedition of 1910–1915, Russia officially declared Jeanette and other Arctic islands to be her property.
The US government did not dispute the claim to the island, which is now administratively part of the Russian Federation’s Sakha Republic.
According to the investigative journalism website Bellingcat, Jeanette Island appears with a similar blurred appearance on Google Earth, and it is apparent in low-resolution satellite images of the region on other sites, such as Bing Maps.
Landsat 8 satellite data (via Sentinel Hub Playground) seems to reveal Jeannette Island, which corresponds to images of the island that have been shared on social media.