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 claims 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 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 leads us to 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.


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The website which produced this story provided no sources, and there are no corroborating reports to be found anywhere online. News-Hound.org was only registered in January 2014 – although it has articles posted that 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).

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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View Comments (18)


  1. bill okeeke

    March 22, 2014 at 6:59 am

    True story I was there . I lived on the other side of the island …we used to meet chasing turtles…she wasnt interested in men but did like the eldest monkey who lived on her side of the island

  2. Ron Kidder

    March 21, 2014 at 10:43 am

    I’m sitting here laughing because my cat was in our driveway when the Google car went by. I didn’t realize it until I was checking out google earth street level. I also saw my truck in the parking lot of a local bar. The wife didn’t think that was a bit funny….Oh Well……

  3. Franklin19

    March 20, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    I think this fake story was created by an atheist or Hebrew so as to shake Christians’ faith that miracles happen. Nice try, but you failed- we still know that miracles happen!

    • Martin Hael Ku?era

      April 26, 2014 at 9:33 pm

      Its true that miracles happen, but its not because god wanted to…

  4. Desiree McNicol

    March 19, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    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

      March 20, 2014 at 5:57 am

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

  5. Louise

    March 19, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    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.

  6. Rick

    March 19, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    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.”

  7. nnr

    March 19, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Everything you read on the internet is 100% true.

    • AndyTheHat

      March 20, 2014 at 12:17 pm

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

  8. HOJO

    March 19, 2014 at 10:51 am

    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.


  9. rebecca glotfelty

    March 19, 2014 at 7:14 am

    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.

    • ROb

      March 19, 2014 at 7:40 am

      Except that ads don’t work that way… each person that visits the page will see a different ad based on what they have already been viewing and cookies on their browser.

      • Nik

        March 19, 2014 at 6:48 pm

        Not quite. “Relevance” adservers take a number of things into account, including the content of cookies and browser history and so forth… they also specifically pay attention to keywords in the text surrounding the space, and the publisher can control loose “categories” of what appears as well. So it’s entirely plausible that a story could be designed to “prompt” an anti-Obamacare ad… although this story doesn’t seem to have any of the SEO characteristics that would.

  10. ty

    March 19, 2014 at 7:05 am

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

    • Ian

      March 19, 2014 at 8:13 am

      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.

    • Megan Branson

      March 19, 2014 at 8:18 am

      The story posted by arabia.msn.com has been debunked multiple times over. Don’t believe everything you read.

    • Megan Branson

      March 19, 2014 at 8:20 am

      ‘waffles’ – i meant to reply to ‘ty’

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