Hoaxes & Rumors

Did Google Earth Find a Woman Stranded on a Deserted Island for 7 Years?

Did Google Earth Find a Woman Stranded on a Deserted Island for 7 Years?

A story suggests that a woman who was trapped on a deserted island for seven years was rescued thanks to Google Earth. Is this story true or false?

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The story is fake.

Let’s first take a look at what is being circulated.

In the fake news story posted on the website news-hound.org, we read of a woman named Gemma Sheridan who was lost in a storm in 2007 and spent seven years on a deserted island before her SOS sign was recently spotted on Google Earth.

However, after passing through the Panama Canal and into the Pacific, things started to take a turn for the worse. There was a huge storm that took out the boats electronics and washed her 2 friends overboard and seriously damaged her boat. Without any electronics and with a damaged boat, Gemma drifted for 17 days until she was hit by another major storm. During the storm, Gemma was knocked unconscious and the rest is history.

The “SOS” Photo

The article includes a photo which offers “proof” of the woman’s SOS sign.

“I had a sign on the beach that was about 10 feet high, but it had sat there all this time and nothing came of it. So I decided to go all out, I spent the next few weeks clearing space and finding materials to build a huge sign in the sand on the beach.”

We are then shown the following photo:


The article would have us believe that this photo was somehow spotted on Google Earth, which eventually led to the woman’s rescue. The image, however, was posted back in 2010 amid reports of destruction in Kyrgyzstan in the wake of a surge in violence in the area. The uncropped photo reveals that this SOS sign was certainly not on a deserted island, as buildings can be seen nearby.

Photo Credit: Digital Globe, 2010.

Photo Credit: Digital Globe, 2010.


The website which produced this story provided no sources, and there are no corroborating reports to be found anywhere online. News-Hound.org was registered in January 2014 – but it contains articles which pre-date its registration. The website has numerous outlandish stories, such as the claim that a man sued his wife for being too ugly (see our coverage of that one here) or a mermaid which washed ashore after a hurricane (our response).

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The True Story

Thanks to several commenters for noting that some of the text in the fake article was taken verbatim from the true story of Ed Stafford who spent 60 days on a deserted island in the Pacific, reported by the Daily Mail back in 2013.

Bottom Line

The story which claims a woman was found via Google Earth after spending 7 years on a deserted island is not true. There have been no corroborating reports, and the photo used as “proof” was posted years earlier in an unrelated story.

Do you have any additional info about this story or its origin? Let us hear from you in the comments below.

You may also be interested in Did Google Maps Capture a Murder Scene?

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  • AndyTheHat

    I’ve seen that quote before, it’s by Abraham Lincoln.

  • Desiree McNicol

    The photo used could be just an illustration, just like the story of the man suing his wife. If you dont have access to an actual photo you can just as easily use another photo to illustrate the story. People do it all the time and it is not proof that the story is not true.

    • waffles

      Besides the photo, much of the story was plagiarized from another article, cited above.

  • Louise

    The part of the story about the goat caught in a tangle of vegetation and being killed by hand was taken directly from an episode of “Survivorman” starring Lee Stroud.

  • Rick

    Glad to find this info and let folks know. It is crazy how quickly this stuff is ingested without someone investigating the story. We need to start a new idiom, “If it sounds too wild to be true, it probably isn’t true.”

  • HOJO

    Looks more like 805 or 505 than SOS

    #805shoutout to California counties of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura, plus southernmost portions of Monterey County.

    #505shoutout to New Mexico – northwestern and central portions of the state, including the Albuquerque metropolitan area, Santa Fe, and Farmington.


  • rebecca glotfelty

    I believe the purpose of the phony but remarkable story was so that people pass on the anti-obama care ad embedded within the story. I clicked on this wondering if it were an interview with Emma.

  • ty

    The story about a man suing his wife is true. MSN even wrote an article about it.

    • Ian

      The story as reported on the website isn’t true at all, the pictures are doctored or stolen from elsewhere. I think there are a couple of true things in the story, but most of it is false.

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