Maria Theresa Reef

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Maria Theresa Reef
Wachusett Bank.png
Maria Theresa Reef on 1921 Pacific map
Type Phantom island
Maria Theresa Reef as "Maria Theresia Felsen" on 1904 German map of Antarctica
Historic Antarctic map of 1906 with "Maria Theresia Rock?"

The Maria-Theresa Reef is a supposed reef in the South Pacific (south of French Tuamotu islands and east of New Zealand); it appears to be a phantom reef. It is also known as Tabor Island or Tabor Reef on French maps.


It was reported on 16 November 1843 by a Captain Asaph P. Taber (not "Tabor") of the Maria-Theresa, a New Bedford, Massachusetts, whaler, to be situated at 37°00′S 151°00′W / 37.000°S 151.000°W / -37.000; -151.000, later adjusted to 37°00′S 151°13′W / 37.000°S 151.217°W / -37.000; -151.217.[1] It was unsuccessfully searched for in 1957. In 1983, the position of the reef was recalculated at 36°50′S 136°39′W / 36.833°S 136.650°W / -36.833; -136.650, more than 1,000 km further east, and searched for, but not found. Its existence is doubtful.

Other nearby historically reported reefs which also may not exist are: Jupiter Reef, Wachusett Reef, and Ernest Legouve Reef. The historical sightings of these reefs were probably inspired by the supposed existence of Maria Theresa Reef. Even in the 21st Century, some map and atlas publishers still show this fictitious group of reefs in the South Pacific.

In 1966 amateur radio journal "CQ" published a photo and description of Don Miller transmitting from what he claimed was Maria Teresa Reef.[2] This has been since proven to be a hoax. New Zealand's HMNZS Tui made an extensive search of the area in the 1970s and found no shallows or islands. The depths in the region were shown to be 2,734 fathoms (5,000 m).

In fiction[edit]

The island appears in Jules Verne's novels In Search of the Castaways and The Mysterious Island.[3]

In In Search of the Castaways (The Children of Captain Grant), the island shelters Captain Grant and two of his crew. Its coordinates being half-erased in the help message found by the children, it takes them months to find the castaways, with the help of Lord Glenarvan on board of his yacht "Duncan". At the end of the book, Ayrton, the renegade, is left in Grant's place to live among the beasts and regain his humanity.

In The Mysterious Island, after they have settled on Lincoln Island, the heroes travel to Tabor island using a small ship, meet Ayrton, and bring him back to civilisation and rehabilitation. After Lincoln Island is destroyed by explosion of its volcano, they are saved by "Duncan" whose crew was looking for Ayrton on Tabor island, but instead found there a note, indicating the existence of Lincoln island sheltering the heroes and Ayrton. The note turns out to have been specifically left on Tabor island by the benevolent Captain Nemo.


  1. ^ Great Britain Hydrographic Dept (1900). Pacific Islands, v. 3 (3 ed.). London. p. 27. Retrieved 2011-09-26. 
  2. ^ "Don Miller, W9WNV, DXpeditioner". CQ; the Radio Amateur's Journal. Cowan. 22 (7-12): 69. 1966. Retrieved 2011-09-26. 
  3. ^ Krauth, Bernhard (1987). "Le Récif Maria-Theresa". Bulletin de la société Jules Verne. 84 (32): 22. 

Further reading and external links[edit]