When the sailors Michael Hoult and Larissa Brill saw land in a remote corner of the South Pacific, they had to check the maps.
No, they did not imagine anything. Almost overnight, a huge "floating island" the size of Manhattan near Tonga appeared and swims slowly south.
The nearly 150 square kilometer volcanic pumice raft was discovered earlier this month by Australian sailors.
According to the BBC (1
As they drove through the waters near VaVa'u, they said it took "6-8 hours" to cross the huge pumice raft.
"It was like plowing through a field," they wrote. In their videos, the water surface looks like land.
They estimated that the rock may have been half a foot deep and potentially dangerous to other ships.
Sharing a Report to Facebook Michael showed a picture of a "basketball size" piece. He had fished out of the water, which was clearly causing harm to other ships. They gave the location of their sighting as 18 55's, 175 21 & # 39; W near the Tongan island of Vava & # 39; u.
"The waves were almost brought to rest and the boat slowed to a knot." described the eerie effect of how the rocks calmed the water as they slowed down their vehicle.
Though their oars were temporarily trapped, they managed to extricate themselves from the rubble.
The field is far from New Zealand, but is slowly drifting south. Experts have predicted that the course of this floating island will move towards Australia. It is expected to reach Queensland, Australia sometime in 2020.
Associate Professor Scott Bryan of the Queensland University of Technology said that large pumice events are not uncommon in the region.
Speaking to the BBC the professor said, "At the moment, more than a trillion pieces of pumice are floating together, but over time it will dissolve and disperse throughout the region."
While this could be dangerous for recreational craft In this area, the pumice field is overall positive for marine life.
Those who studied the phenomenon say the floating islands are a rich habitat.
In particular, the coral fields of the Great Barrier Reef will benefit from the arrival of the floating stones.
"This is a possible recovery mechanism for the Great Barrier Reef," Bryan said.
"Based on the pumice raft events that we've studied over the last 20 years. It will bring new healing to your corals and other reef dwellers."
Life forms "can settle on the pumice stone and be transported thousands of miles. So it's a way to renew ecosystems somewhere, "Dr. Jutzeler in conversation with the BBC .