Saturday, June 27, 2009

Mexico Thinks They Lost an Island

Maps from the early Age of Exploration are fascinating things. Cartographers combined ship charts, captains' logs, and their own imagination to create maps of the New World. Later on more cartographers would use better information to make maps but sometimes still use old maps as "reference" to ensure they included everything. Sometimes mistakes manage to transfer from map to map because of cartographers' methods.

Case in point is Isla Bermeja. The island was marked in a sixteenth century Spanish map and was included in maps at least until the 1800s. Everybody knew of its existence until Mexico had to prove it to ensure they had sole drilling rights to a very rich oil area off the Yucatan in the Gulf of Mexico. Well, it turns out the island does not exist. Mexico is vowing to continue to look for the island but sadly for them anyone with Google Maps can quickly discover it is not there. The lack of an island opens much of the oil field near the doughnut holes to American drilling as well.

Bad cartography is hitting Mexicans hard. Some are in denial while others resort to conspiracies like CIA sinking the island or other American foul play (Spanish-language YouTube video).

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