And now it can be told. The hoax that is the Sandy Island off the South Pacific really never actually existed.

Modern technology has led travellers on a few wild goose chases but now a whole island that appears on Google Maps has been found not to exist.

A band of explorers tried to find 'Sandy Island' after it appeared on the digital atlas, which is relied on by millions of people for directions.

But when the explorers led by Maria Seton from the University of Sydney arrived at the alleged locationof Sandy Island in the Coral Sea, 500 miles off New Caledonia, there was only water water everywhere and no land to be seen.

On Google satellite images, Sandy Island appears as a black streak without visible coloration from vegetation.

The search engine giant blamed the mistake on the planet's constantly changing topography.

"The world is a constantly changing place and keeping on top of these changes is a never-ending endeavour," a spokesman said.

"It's on Google Earth and other maps so we went to check and there was no island. We're really puzzled. It's quite bizarre," said Seton.

"How did it find its way on to the maps? We just don't know, but we plan to follow up and find out.