In this era of advanced technology and ubiquitous connectivity, mysteries can be accessed with a single click. In September 2021, while scrolling through Google Maps, a social media user made an intriguing discovery: a mysterious dark spot in the centre of the vast Pacific Ocean.1 This mysterious feature captivated the imaginations of Internet users everywhere, spawning numerous theories and speculations regarding its origins and function. However, the secret of the so-called “Pacific Black Hole” can now be revealed, as the enigma has been resolved.
The initial social media post that sparked the commotion depicted the mysterious black spot, which appeared to be located far from any known countries or islands. Curious Internet users were eager to offer their theories and suggestions. The speculations ranged from the frivolous and humorous, such as the concept of a “Hollow Earth entrance,” to the more serious, such as a hidden military base or an underground volcano. Due to the photograph’s unusual appearance, some speculated that it had been purposefully censored.2
“Pacific Black Hole” Or…..
Thankfully, the solution to this enticing riddle was not as far-fetched as some of the imaginative suggestions. It turned out that the dark speck was an island named Vostok, located approximately 4000 miles east of Australia and belonging to Kiribati. Even though Vostok Island was uninhabited, it had a dense forest of trees that had grown in close proximity to one another. These trees, known as Pisonia trees, were the key to figuring out why the island appeared black on Google Maps, giving rise to the illusion of a “Pacific Black Hole.”
The Pisonia trees on Vostok Island were exceedingly lush, and their leaves were a strikingly dark shade of green. When viewed from above, particularly from the height at which satellite imagery is captured for services like Google Maps, the dense vegetation absorbed and reflected light in such a manner that the island’s vegetation appeared black. This optical illusion resulted in the island being incorrectly referred to as the “Pacific Black Hole,” which sparked widespread interest and curiosity among the online community.
Internet users were, not surprisingly, initially mystified by the mysterious island. Contrary to the typical depiction of islands on maps, the appearance of a dark spot amidst the immense expanse of the Pacific Ocean appeared out of place. However, as the phenomenon was studied and explained, it became apparent that this was merely a rare instance of nature’s enchanting tricks.