Point Nemo. For me, this evocative name conjures images of nautical adversity, sea monsters, galleon ships, the Captain in Jules Verne’s ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea’ and of submarining and the age of oceanic exploration. The word “Nemo” is Latin, meaning ‘no man’ – a fitting moniker for this lonely place.
Point Nemo is one of the Earth’s Poles of Inaccessibility. As you can imagine by its name, Point Nemo does not reside on land, but in an isolated and bleak area of ocean. The reason for this isolated place’s notability is simple: It is the point that is the furthest from land in any direction.
The world’s most remote oceanic point lies in the South Pacific Ocean, in stormy, treacherous and lifeless waters – its extreme location within the South Pacific means that it is largely too far from any land for nutrients to reach the area. This desolate place is so remote that little nutrient run-off or rich shallow coastal waters make it this far out.
Point Nemo lies a staggering 2,688 km (1,670 miles) from the nearest scrap of land – Ducie Island, which is part of the Pitcairn Islands. Ducie Island is a bleak uninhabited strip of rock, with a diameter stretching less than two kilometres. To further understand this place’s remoteness, consider that the second and third-nearest landfalls are Moto Nui in the Easter Islands, and Maher Island, in Antarctica. Point Nemo is so remote, that visitors at the right time of day will be closer to the astronauts aboard the International Space Station some 400 kilometres up in space, than any humans on earth! The oceanic point of inaccessibility is in a bleak area of the South Pacific known as “spacecraft cemetery” because hundreds of decommissioned spacecraft, satellites and space stations have been directed to crash there upon re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere, due to the place’s remoteness.
Point Nemo was always known to exist, however its precise location was not known until 1992, when Croatian-Canadian survey engineer Hrvoje Lukatela determined to be the first to pinpoint the oceanic point of inaccessibility. Lukatela used a geo-spatial computer program to calculate where Point Nemo lay – He realised that because the earth is three-dimensional, the most remote ocean point must be equidistant from three different coastlines.
This mysterious place has captured imaginations for years, from Jules Verne to HP Lovecraft, that latter of whom placed the his ‘nightmare corpse city’ of R’lyeh, home of dread god Cthulhu, creepily close to actual Point Nemo back in 1928 – long before humans had the technology to identify the point’s actual location.
For its apparent mundanity as a bleak and lifeless patch of ocean, Point Nemo held one more trick up its sleeve to shock the world – The “Bloop”. The Bloop is one of the most puzzling sounds in the history of natural science. Detected several times, first in 1997 by the Equatorial Pacific Ocean autonomous hydrophone array, the Bloop’s sound was so massive that is could be heard on multiple sensors, at a range of over 5,000 kilometres. The NOAA initially speculated that the sound could be and ice shelf cracking, but then revised their information to state that the Bloop’s audio profile resembled that of a living creature. This revision sparked rampant and excited speculation between scientists and conspiracy theorists alike – what type of monstrous creature of the deep could possibly have made these sounds? This incredibly powerful audio was several times louder than the loudest recorded animal on earth – the blue whale. The NOAA has since revised their statement again, stating that the sound is probably that of a large ice quake, but this has not quelled debate in some circles.
Point Nemo truly is an evocative place, and is a reminder of just how little we know about our world’s oceans. This deep, dark and forbidding water has surely not given up the last of its secrets.
Still want to go?
- GPS Coordinates of Point Nemo: [45º52.6S, 123º23.6W]
- Plan ahead: During the Volvo Ocean Race race it took the fastest boat 15 days, 10 hours and 37 minutes to get to Point Nemo.
- Watch out for sea ice. A survey team in the Point Nemo area reported scores of icebergs including some over 1 kilometre in length.