Buss Island

Buss Island

Buss Island was a phantom island thought to exist between Ireland and the mythical Frisland. The island was first reportedly  "discovered" in 1578 by Martin Frobisher while searching for the legendary Northwest Passage.

In 1671 Captain Thomas Shepard visited, explored, and mapped the island (left). Shepherd’s description was so precise it led to a royal charter and expedition, but the island seemed to only reveal itself to sailors not looking for it. Eventually, it was presumed the island had ‘sunk’ leaving only a sandbar there, and for a few decades the island was called the "Sunken Land of Buss."  

In 1776, soundings at the location indicated shallows, and 40 years later more soundings indicated a depth of 1080 feet. This led to the belief that there may actually have been an island there contributing to these stories and myths.

In 1818, the Isabella, captained by John Ross (still looking, as Frobisher had been, for the Northwest Passage) established that there were no shallows in the area proposed for Buss’s sinking. 

Buss Island appeared on nautical maps of the area well into the 19th century, making it one of the more persistent of the phantom islands in the North Atlantic. It’s possible that its persistence could be due to the effect of the Fata Morgana, an ocean mirage common in northern waters.