Answering the unanswered; Answers to unanswered questions of the mysterious Kochi island

This is a FAQ and their answers, which I received during this period from many people including media in connection with the article, I had written on the ‘Mysterious Island’ in Kochi coast of Kerala. I thought of publishing those questions and answers as many might have the same in their mind. If I have missed any questions, please let me know. I will be updating the same.

Why did you do this analysis? What gave you interest in this issue?

I came across the news through some channels and social media. Like every other fake news I don’t give much attention to it. But soon the frequencies became more and even the national media took it up. I even heard that the universities formed teams to investigate this issue. There were “expert theories” (from self proclaimed experts) on what steps need to be taken with that island or the sand from there. Some even started talking about the possible scam that may arise while executing those mitigation project plans. All these irritated me and I decided to find the truth.

Why do we need all these analysis to prove there is no island, when ships are visible there?

Scientific temperament is what we need these days, and I wanted the issue to end with a single post(not even this post was intended) closing the case from all sides, giving no room for further questions. I could have commented on a single Twitter thread or a Facebook post, but the goal may only be partially achieved. Now the media took it to the mainstream without a second thought as they have proof from all sides and reached a larger crowd than my posts could have.

How competent are you in this matter to question those theories and university?

I have been working with geospatial technology since 2012. And for the past four years it is my bread and butter. I deal with satellite images and related datasets daily. I have an engineering degree in civil engineering and a master degree in Geoinformatics. Read more about me in my blog arkives.in.

But none of these qualifications are required to identify what has happened. All that you need is a mind with common sense and understanding that even google can also be wrong.

What is your intention in doing this analysis and proving there is no island?

I believe in Science not in Myths. I wanted to make people understand one thing cannot be true, simply because some reputed organisations or big companies say it. Their reputation is not the proof all the time. This small post was also intended for emphasising that there is always a need of validation with a different data source however good your datasets are.

Does any organisation funded the research?

No. This was solely done in my free time. No one has offered me any financial help or remuneration for this till today. Moreover, it only cost me 5–6 hours of free time. I consider this as my duty to society to break the myths and not as a commercial problem.

The views and finding are entirely mine, no other organisations associated with me has part of influence in it.

Does the coastal erosion at Chellanam have any connection with this?

No. Since there is no such island available on that location, there is no point of raising a connection with that. The issue of Chellanam has to be studied separately by an expert panel. The sediment transportation experts can give better insights on where the eroded soil could have gone, I am not an expert on that matter.

Does the island have any relationship with Ockhi or 2018 Kerala floods?

No. Since there is no such island available on that location, there is no point of raising a connection with that.

Can’t it be an underwater feature/sand bed shown in the Google Map? How can Google be wrong?

The image that we see on the satellite view of Google map(or Google earth) is the high resolution satellite image of various satellites taken using optical image capturing techniques(it uses visible range of electromagnetic spectrum for capturing image). These visible range waves are not capable of penetrating any surfaces, not even clouds. Hence how can it sense some features beneath the water?

Can’t it be an island rising below the sea bed even below the height that ships are required to navigate?

No, it cannot be. Please read the Bathymetry section in the post. There was no sign of small land rise in that area and its surrounding.

What is your comment on the “Plankton Assemblage” theory?

I am surprised to hear that it came from a reputable university. As plankton’s presence cannot be the reason for having island shape, which is an error from google. There are plankton assemblages in different parts of the globe, where do you see google replacing the image in its map?

Plankton cannot have a specific boundary and can be continuously distributed by waves. It also affects the clarity of the water, which has also been analysed.

When did you notice this artefact?

I checked only when it became news in the media. I am not sure when the ocean floor texture was replaced with a high resolution image. It seems from the position of the ships the the image currently there is the image sensed on December 2021(identified with google earth’s temporal tool).

Why do Google Maps have the ocean floor textured image instead of a high resolution image over the ocean like we have it over the land masses?

The ocean’s surface when monitored from top is almost similar everywhere which does not have a change in image. Since the customer base of Google Maps are land oriented, they focus on providing the High Resolution satellite image only on land. Also in order to make the rendering of the tiles faster and lighter they replaced it with an ocean floor replica.

Is this island the only case?

No. There are many areas around the globe like the Kyaukpyu Airport, Myanmar, one I mentioned in the post. But there were rocks nearby that region, here it can be ships.

What error might have happened with Google for having this error?

What I think in this case might have occurred is a false prediction of the land feature by Google’s AI. The logic for the AI can be - to acquire images over the oceans of various time stamps, run for feature detection and change detection algorithms. Since the distinct features from ocean surface are ships, and the moving ships have a rare possibility to be constant at all the images given as input. If a feature is constant in all the time stamps the area will be marked as a landmass. Since the various time-stamped images might have got ships anchored at the same spots(or very close by), the area might have been misclassified as a landmass and got replaced with the high resolution image.

How sure are you on this theory of Google’s error?

I am hundred percent sure that this is an artefact and had happened with the google image processing algorithms. My other analysis also backed that. Even some other experts like Raj Bhagat Palanichamy also backed my theory.

But I am not sure what might have caused it with Google’s algorithm(the explanation for the previous question). That was purely my logical thinking with my experience.

Can I share/ reuse your images and details in the post?

The article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0) license. You are free to:

  • Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
  • Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.
  • The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms.

Geospatial Engineer