Eerie Facts About Point Nemo, The Most Remote Location On Planet Earth

Published July 27, 2018

At more than 1,000 miles from civilization in all directions, Point Nemo is unlike any other place in the world.

Point Nemo

Wikimedia CommonsThe locaiton of Point Nemo.

People often vaguely refer to “the middle of nowhere,” but as it turns out, scientists have actually figured out precisely where that point is. Point Nemo, the most remote location on Earth, is so far removed from civilization that the closest humans to that location at any given time are likely to be astronauts.

The Most Remote Place On Earth

Point Nemo is officially known as “the oceanic pole of inaccessibility,” or, more simply put, the point in the ocean that is farthest away from land. Located at 48°52.6′S 123°23.6′W, the spot is quite literally the middle of nowhere, surrounded by more than 1,000 miles of ocean in every direction. The closest landmasses to the pole are one of the Pitcairn islands to the north, one of the Easter Islands to the northeast, and one island off of the coast of Antarctica to the south.

Clearly, there are no human inhabitants anywhere near Point Nemo (the name “Nemo” itself is both Latin for “no one,” as well as a reference to Jules Verne’s submarine captain from 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea). In fact, the location is so isolated that the closest people to Nemo are actually not even on Earth. The astronauts aboard the International Space Station are around 258 miles from their home planet at any given time. Since the inhabited area closest to Point Nemo is more than 1,000 miles away, the humans in space are far closer to the pole of inaccessibility than those on land.

Mota Nui

FlickrMotu Nui of the Easter Islands is the closest landmass to Point Nemo, though it is still more than 1,000 miles to the north.

Not even the man who discovered Point Nemo has ever visited it. In 1992, survey engineer Hrvoje Lukatela located the point in the ocean that was farthest away from any land using a computer program that calculated the coordinates that were the greatest distance from three equidistant land coordinates. It is very possible no human has ever passed through those coordinates at all.

As for non-human inhabitants, there aren’t very many of those around Point Nemo either. The coordinates are actually located within the South Pacific Gyre: an enormous rotating current that actually prevents nutrient-rich water from flowing into the area. Without any food sources, it is impossible to sustain any life in this part of the ocean (other than the bacteria and small crabs that live near the volcanic vents on the seafloor).

Mysteries Associated With Point Nemo

Because Point Nemo is located in what has been described as “the least biologically active region of the world ocean,” scientists were surprised when, in 1997, they detected one of the loudest underwater sounds ever recorded near the pole.

Audio of The Bloop.

The sound was captured by underwater microphones more than 3,000 miles apart. Befuddled scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration were at a loss to think of something large enough to create such a loud sound underwater and dubbed the mystery noise “The Bloop.” Sci-fi enthusiasts, however, quickly thought of one explanation.

When writer H.P. Lovecraft first introduced readers to his infamous titular, tentacled monster in 1926’s “The Call of Cthulhu,” he wrote that the creature’s lair was the lost city of R’yleh in the south Pacific Ocean. Lovecraft gave R’yleh the coordinates 47°9′S 126°43’W, which are astonishingly close to those of Point Nemo and to where The Bloop was recorded. The fact that Lovecraft first wrote about his sea monster in 1928 (nearly a full 50 years before Lukatela calculated Nemo’s location) led some people to speculate that the pole of inaccessibility was, in fact, home to a yet-undiscovered creature of some sorts.

Cthulu Lovecraft

Wikimedia CommonsCthulhu

As it turns out, The Bloop was actually the sound of ice breaking off of Antarctica and not the call of Cthulhu. Point Nemo does, however, have at least one other eerie claim to its name. Due to its remoteness and distance from shipping routes, the area around Nemo was chosen as a “spaceship graveyard.”

Because autonomous spaceships are not designed to survive re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere (the heat usually destroys them), scientists needed to select an area where there would be an extremely low risk of any humans being struck with flying space-debris. With a population of zero, the oceanic pole of inaccessibility at Point Nemo offered the perfect solution.

Although a Lovecraftian monster may not lurk in its depths, Point Nemo is surrounded by remains of spacecraft that are, indeed, not of this world.

After this look at Point Nemo, discover the most unbelievable facts about planet Earth. Then, check out the most remote places in all of human civilization.

Gina Dimuro
Gina Dimuro is a New York-based writer and translator.
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