Google Maps ‘censored’ mysterious Russian island that ‘once belonged to the US’

A remote Russian island has sparked a mystery after users discovered it was censored on Google Maps.

Jeannette Island in the East Siberian Sea appears as a black dot on the search giant’s digital mapping tool.


A strange black speck appears over Russia's Jeanette Island on Google Maps


A strange black speck appears over Russia’s Jeanette Island on Google MapsPhoto credit: Google Maps
By zooming in some parts of the island can be seen in the satellite view


By zooming in some parts of the island can be seen in the satellite viewPhoto credit: Google Maps

As to why it obscures the icy landmass from afar, the company is keeping close.

However, some details can be resolved if you zoom in close enough.

It’s unclear why the island is blurred, though there has long been a dispute over whether the territory belongs to Russia or the US.

Some conspiracy theorists suggest that the location is an ideal location for a secret Russian military base, being relatively close to the US and Canada.

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Google frequently blocks military locations on its Maps tool, including air force bases in Germany, missile silos in Russia, and bases in Afghanistan.

Images of the island were provided to Google by The International Bathymetric Chart of the Arctic Ocean, an Arctic Ocean mapping project initiated in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

A Google spokesman declined to comment.

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Jeannette Island, located north of Russia, was discovered in 1881 during an expedition led by American naval officer and explorer George E. De Long.

It covers an area of ​​just 1.2 square miles, smaller than the Glastonbury Festival site.

De Long hoped to find open waters in the Arctic Ocean around the North Pole, but was trapped in thick ice near Herald Island in September 1879 and drifted hundreds of kilometers before approaching Jeanette Island around May 1881.

The explorer and his crew took shelter on the island, claiming possession of the land mass on behalf of the United States and naming it after their ship, the USS Jeanette.

However, after the Imperial Russian Hydrographic Expedition in the Arctic Ocean of 1910–1915, Russia publicly announced that Jeanette was part of the Russian Federation along with other Arctic islands.

Administratively, the island is now part of the Sakha Republic of the Russian Federation, a claim never disputed by the United States, which today recognizes it as Russian territory.

It’s likely that issues over who owns Jeanette Island led to the decision to block it on Google Maps, but that hasn’t stopped conspiracy theorists from coming forward with their own ideas.

On Reddit, user exoplanetaryscience wrote: “Google rarely goes black for no reason. A search of Google Earth shows that this has been permanently blurred — even in images from the 1980s.

“But what really impresses me is that Jeannette Island is completely unremarkable… or at least it’s supposed to be.

“I suspect there’s a hidden Russian military base there, and possibly a pretty sizeable one at that.”

You can view Jeanette Island in Google Maps yourself via 76°47′24″N 157°58′00″E.

Jeanette Island is an icy landmass covering an area of ​​just 1.2 square miles


Jeanette Island is an icy landmass covering an area of ​​just 1.2 square miles
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