Many of the world’s islands are well-explored, their secrets learned long ago, yet a few remain mysterious, with lots of phantasmagoria. Islands shown on maps for centuries suddenly appear to vanish. Dangerous, top secret facilities on remote islands are abandoned or destroyed. Sometimes, islands behave in ways seemingly inexplicable to those who explore them or come in contact with them for the first time.
Islands that seem completely cut off from the rest of the world produce flora and fauna that are not only unique but also look as though they could grow only on an alien world. Like we don’t deserve them here on earth. Other islands are mysterious because of their inhabitants’ origin or fate. All of these ten strange and mysterious islands are truly amazing for these reasons and more.
On maps dating as far back as the 1700s, Isla Bermeja was shown off the Yucatan Peninsula’s coast, at a greater distance than any other island claimed by Mexico.
The island is supposed to lie 55 nautical miles farther than Mexico’s 200-nautical-mile territorial limit, but a 2009 National Autonomous University of Mexico study, in a bid to prevent United States’ encroachment on Mexico’s maritime interests, concluded that the island doesn’t exist, and couldn’t be found anywhere in the area in which maps indicated it should be.
The elusive island was first reported missing in 1997, when a Navy fishing expedition was unable to find it. Until it disappeared, Isla Bermeja, which supposedly measured 80 square kilometers (31 mi2), had been the point from which Mexico’s 200 nautical-mile limit started.
While some local conspiracy theorists claim that the US bombarded it, or that it had been lost to an earthquake, others claim that any of such would have been noticeable, especially to the locals.
Hoping Easter Island would give up its answer to their question as to how islanders had once lived there, farming thousands of miles from any continent, a team of researchers from the University of California at Santa Cruz used palaeogenomic research to determine the genetic history of the Rapa Nui, a native name for Easter Island’s lost tribe.
Contrary to popular beliefs that the Rapa Nui interbred with South Americans well before Europeans arrived on Easter Island in 1772, the UC Santa Cruz team discovered that the materials from museums they tested indicated no contact between the Rapa Nui and South Americans before the arrival of Europeans.
If the results of their research prove to be correct, it’s clear that the Rapa Nui didn’t get help from South Americans in creating and moving the island’s heavy moai. Unaided, the Rapa Nui carved and moved them themselves.
During the 1920s, Soviet Union officials were seeking a location that had to be isolated, had to be surrounded by desert, and had to be within the borders of the Soviet empire. The Soviets settled for Vozrozhdeniya, situated in the Aral Sea. There, a top secret biological weapons laboratory was constructed, where diseases such as anthrax, smallpox, brucellosis, tularemia, botulinum, and Venezuelan equine encephalitis pathogens were genetically modified to resist medical treatment.
Gennadi Lepyoshkin, a Soviet Army colonel, physician and microbiologist spent 18 career years on the island, and reported that as many as 300 monkeys would be caged on a range, next to instruments that measured the concentrations of pathogens in the air. Following the monkeys’ exposure to the germs, they’d be taken to labs, to be tested and monitored for these diseases.
Quite surprisingly, about 1,500 people involved in the project not only worked on the island but lived there as well in the only town, with “a social club, a stadium, a couple of schools and shops,” Lepyoshkin said.
As the Aral Sea dried up, the island simply became part of the surrounding desert, and today, Kantubek lies in ruins, having been looted after it was abandoned by the Soviet Union. Scientists don’t believe the biological weapons laboratory poses much of a threat anymore. All the pathogens except anthrax, which can survive for centuries, have been destroyed by the area’s high temperatures and harsh conditions.
Located in the Parana Delta, between the cities of Campana and Zarate in Buenos Aires Province in Argentina, is an island shaped like a nearly perfect circle with a diameter of 120 meters (390ft). It is surrounded by a channel that also forms a nearly perfect circle. Thanks to the presence of the round land mass inside it, the channel looks much like a crescent moon.
Together, the island and channel resemble an eye, an appearance that suggested the island’s nickname: “The Floating Eye”. Sergio Neuspiller a renowned film director, is reported to have discovered the Eye in 2016, while he was scouting locations for a science fiction movie.
Having made the astonishing discovery of the mysterious island, Neuspiller and his crew, including Richard Petroni, a hydraulic and civil engineer from New York who’d become involved in the project, decided to make a crowd-funded documentary about the Eye, instead of filming the science fiction movie Neuspiller had originally intended to make.
Socotra Island, off the coast of Yemen, would readily pass for an alien planet. Its endangered flora is unique due to the remote location’s isolation, extreme temperature, and arid conditions. A third of its plant life can be found nowhere else on Earth. Fortunately, 70 percent of the island has been set aside as a national park.
Some of the plants like the Dragon’s Blood Tree, are devoid of leaves, except at their tips, which makes it look as though the branches are the tree’s roots and the tree is growing upside down. This strange tree is used for its supposed medicinal value, to produce fabric dye, incense, and to stain wood.
Surrounded by turquoise water, the island features huge limestone caves, homes to bats which are the only mammals native to Socotra. Messages in a variety of languages have been carved into the caves’ walls. Researchers even attribute them to sailors who stayed on the island between the first and sixth century AD.
The residents of this mysterious island are also unique. They all have a DNA haplo group possessed by no other people on Earth, and some contend that the Garden of Eden was originally located on Socotra. In 2008, the UNESCO named Socotra a World Heritage Site, further confirming its rare status.
This was an edifice built by Frank Bannerman VI, who, after making a fortune from reselling surplus military equipment he bought at government auctions at the end of the US Civil War, needed a place to store the huge quantities of black powder he’d purchased, along with other surplus item.
His son, David, mentioned “Pollopel Island”. Bannerman bought it in 1900, built a large arsenal there the next spring, and constructed a small castle atop the island, next to the arsenal, as his home, renaming the island after himself.
When Bannerman died in 1918, construction ceased. The ferryboat was destroyed in a storm in 1950, and the island was abandoned. On August 8, 1969, a fire gutted the arsenal, and New York State, which had bought Bannerman Island and its buildings in 1967, declared the island off-limits. It, however, reopened in 2017, and tour guides are reported to be in constant retelling of the island’s mysterious history to curious visitors.
This vaguely U-shaped, 44-square-kilometer (17mi2) atoll in the Indian Ocean known as Diego Garcia has thick, tropical jungles and white sand beaches. It was home to 2,000 native Chagossians, until the British government forcibly relocated them between 1968 and 1973 so that the US could build a naval base there in exchange for Britain’s agreement to lease the island, which would strategically allow the US to strike locations in both Asia and the Middle East.
Diego Garcia was used to stage air support operations during the 1991 Gulf War, the 2001 Afghanistan war, and the 2003 Iraq war. The remote, restricted island, as some contend, is also the site of a secret US prison camp, although American authorities deny the truth of such speculations.
Remember the powerful earthquake that killed 39 people and toppled homes in Pakistan in September 2013? Confirmed reports have it that it also created an island. According to Pakistan’s chief meteorologist, Mohammed Riaz, it was magnitude 7.7, while the US Geological Survey in Colorado claimed it was magnitude 7.8.
The island didn’t exist before the earthquake, but after the event, the Pakistan Meteorological Department’s Director General, Arif Mahmood, said locals reported witnessing the creation of the tiny island, measuring 100 meters (330ft) in length and 9 meters (30ft) high, near the Port of Gwadar.
Pakistani officials said it was possible that the earthquake buckled land under the sea, creating the island, but further investigation would be conducted to determine the cause.
Astronomers spied a mysterious anomaly while analyzing data from NASA’s Cassini probe photographing Saturn and its moons. Comparing older photos to the most current ones to see whether there were any changes, Jason Hofgartner, a planetary scientist and his colleagues spotted what they dubbed a “magic island,” in one of Titan’s seas.
While it’s possible that the “island” is nothing more than waves caused by winds that have strengthened enough to produce such effects or bubbles from gases rising from the seafloor, it’s also possible that the apparent mass actually is an island of sorts: It could be “solids becoming buoyant with the onset of warmer temperatures and floating on the surface, or solids that are neither sunken nor floating, but rather suspended in the sea like silt in a delta on Earth,” according to Hofgartner.
To determine for sure what’s going on, NASA plans to “put a boat or raft on Titan’s seas” to better study the moon and its seas.
Canada’s Partridge Island, located off the coast of Saint John Harbour, New Brunswick, became a quarantine station in 1830. Immigrants stayed there, upon their arrival in Canada, to ensure that they didn’t spread shipboard diseases to Canadian citizens. Thousands of immigrants came to Canada during 1847’s Great Famine, and 2,500 Irish immigrants were quarantined on Partridge Island.
The diseases against which the quarantine guarded from spreading included cholera, typhoid fever, smallpox, scarlet fever, yellow fever, and measles. Newly arrived immigrants were subjected to kerosene showers followed by showers in hot water. Many were sick, and Partridge Island couldn’t handle the huge numbers who came to Canada during the height of the Irish Potato Famine. The influx of thousands of Irish earned the island the nickname “Canada’s Emerald Isle.”
Quarantined immigrants who died of disease were buried on the island, on one occasion in mass grave, the grass over which was rumoured to be of a more intense green than the surrounding lawn because the bones of the dead had nourished it. Patridge Island was closed in 1941 and can now only be visited through photographs.
Today, depopulation, caused by slave trading, diseases and conflict forced them to flee their origin and statues that are as strange and mysterious as the island itself.
There you have it, guys. Pretty sure we left out some other cool and amazing islands. If you know any unusual island you’d like to share with us, kindly leave it in the comment.