Land masses don’t just vanish. They can sink. Tectonic plate shifts can flatten them. They can be removed. Water levels can rise. But they never just disappear without some form of plausible explanation. Strangely, that seems to be what happened with Bermeja Island.
How did it disappear?
Scientists are unclear of exactly what happened to the Island of Bermeja. It’s possible that mapmakers incorrectly put it on the map intentionally or unintentionally. Another possibility is that the island sank into the ocean during an earthquake. Some conspiracy theorists believe that it’s possible that the CIA destroyed the island in the interest of obtaining access to oil in nearby areas.
The curious case of Bermeja Island
Bermeja Island was a very small island off the north coast of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. It was mapped many times by Spanish cartographers as recently as 1950, possibly more recently although no records seem to exist. The island was small, but important to Mexico because it extended Mexico’s land territory further off the coast of the Yucatan. Without the island, the border of Mexico would be smaller in size, which meant that Mexico would lose territory rights to the underground oil deposits off its coast.
In my curiosity just now, I decided to look up the location of the missing island on Google Earth. The first image is a zoomed-out view. The second image is a zoomed-in view of the same map.
The red marker is where Google claims where the island should be.
In 1997, it was first publicized that Bermeja was missing
In 1997, a team of surveyors were charting lands to update the map of the Mexican border. The team was unable to find the Island of Bermeja. To anyone with a curious mind, that should raise some questions. Who contracted this team to “update” the Mexican border? Secondly, why were they updating the borders? The borders of the Mexico don’t change often, do they?
Additionally, in 1997 the USA and Mexican governments negotiated a deal, dividing up the international waters of Hoyos de Dona. There are an estimated 22 billion barrels of oil on the Yucatan shelf, notably in the same area of Bermeja. If Bermeja existed where the maps said it existed, Mexico’s nautical border would be extended significantly — thus giving Mexico an undisputed claim to the nearby oil reserves.
There was a quiet political battle over the Island of Bermeja
A Mexican Senator named José Ángel Conchello was interested in Bermeja Island and denied it’s non-existance. He was in the process of presenting reports and an evidentiary complaint against oil drillers in the area. However, in 1998, only one year after the new territorial maps were re-drawn, Senator Conchello was killed immediately in traffic by an oncoming trailer truck. The driver of the trailer left the scene of the accident and was never found. Something tells me that an honest autopsy report would have different results than what was stated.
You can read more about the politics involved here (be sure to translate to English in the browser): https://www.ruizhealytimes.com/opinion-y-analisis/el-camino-en-el-deterioro-del-petroleo-el-misterio-de-la-isla-bermeja-segunda-de
Back to the story of Bermeja Island
According to this article by Wired Magazine, since 2002 there was an ongoing silent race between nations to remap the ocean floor and determine if there were potential ways to take territory over particular areas of the ocean floor, which are often rich in oil resources.
In 2009, the Mexican government contracted the oceanographic research vessel Justo Sierra to investigate the existence of the island, and what could have happened to it. In June of that year, the investigation was concluded by investigators that the island does not exist and, in fact, there’s no proof or structural evidence that the island ever existed.
Conspiracy Theories Of Bermeja Island
Some theorists speculate that the CIA purposefully removed the island in order to put the territory in international waters and thereby receive access to the oil rights. This is highly possible, as islands have been created and removed in the pursuit of different interest historically. Additionally, the location of the mystery island isn’t visible from shore so if they island is truly not there anymore than it’s likely we’ll never know the truth. It’s not like anyone was keeping a close eye on the island and ensuring the island was still there, although Mexico should have been ensuring the security of the island.
Just as I write this, here is something interesting I found
I decided just now (1/24/2020, 11PM) to look up the ship from this story: the oceanographic research vessel Justo Sierra. That is the ship that Mexico used to search for the Island of Bermeja. Oftentimes there is information online about different ships and what they’re currently doing, so I was curious to learn what I could find.
I did a quick google search. The first result claimed to show the ships “Position” which I was excited to see…
After clicking on the link, I immediately noticed something interesting. The location of the ship is still in the the approximate region of where Bermeja Island was claimed to have been, although the ship was further east.
When I scrolled down the page, I noticed something odd. The ships location has not been updated since June 5th of 2019.
Here is a larger view of the map. I think the one above is partially cut off.
Anyway, thanks for reading! Feel free to post a comment or send us an email with anything you find on this.