Hoaxes & Rumors

Photos of Ebeye in 1971 and 2016. Is the Island Sinking?

Photos of Ebeye in 1971 and 2016. Is the Island Sinking?

A pair of images circulating together supposedly show the island Ebeye in 1971 and 2016. The latter image seems to indicate the island has sunk considerably over the past 40 years. Is it true?

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The two photos are not of the same island, although they do share a similar appearance. The top image, labeled “1971” is actually a section of the horseshoe shaped island Kwajalein, while the bottom photo shows Ebeye. Let’s take a look at the photo comparison in question, with a caption that reads, “Ebeye slowly drowning, while the deniers deny on.”

ebeye comparison

The comparison above has been used in social media debates on global warming, which is beyond the scope of this article. While the two land masses do appear similar in the photos above, they are not the same. The top photo is only a small portion of a much larger island, while the bottom photo accurately depicts Ebeye.

Adding to the confusion, is that the top image is mislabeled when you locate the original source (shown below). That photo can be found on a page displaying the 1971 Kwajalien calendar, with a caption that incorrectly reads, “Island of Ebeye, Marshall Islands, Trust Territory of the Pacific.” The photo is credited to Dave Anders, a resident of Kwajalein from 1971-1973. Even more confusing is that Ebeye resides on the Kwajalein Atoll.


This photo is incorrectly captioned.

If we compare the 1971 photo of Kwajalein above with a 2016 Google Maps screen shot from a similar angle, you can see that the island still looks much today like it did in 1971.


As stated earlier, the photo of Kwajalein in the comparison above is only a portion of the island. A wider shot of the entire island reveals a much larger land mass. The portion used in the comparison can be seen to the right in the image below.


Ebeye Island

This is the most populous island on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. As of 2016 the population is about 15,000. It was occupied by Japan through World War II.

Below are photos of Ebeye from World War II and 2016 via Google Maps, although they are taken from different angles.

ebeye wwii

ebeye 2016

If you are interested in a very high resolution version of the Ebeye picture used in the comparison above, you can see that here.

Bottom Line

The meme which allegedly shows Ebeye Island in 1971 and 2016 includes a miscaptioned earlier photo. The 1971 image is actually that of Kwajalein, not Ebeye. Both islands look much today like they did 40 years ago.

You may be interested in another comparison that has circulated for several years supposedly showing changes in the earth between 1978 and 2012.

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