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Point Nemo

Point Nemo - the furthest point from land shown on the earth with the nearest three landmasses, Ducie Island, Moto Nui and Maher Island. This would be a long swim.

Point Nemo is the furthest point in the ocean from any land.

Imagine falling overboard and needing to swim to the nearest shore; the longest possible swim would start at Point Nemo. This puzzle, known as the Longest Swim Problem, finds its solution far into the Pacific Ocean at Point Nemo.

The furthest point from land is a point with a maximum equal distance to three points of land. If you moved in any direction from there, you'd be closer to one of the points. The three nearest landmasses to Point Nemo, each about 2,688 km away, are:

  • Dulcie Atoll in the Pitcairn Islands
  • Moto Nui, a small islet off the coast of the well-known Rapa Nui (Easter Island)
  • Maher Island, off the coast of Antarctica

If you’ve ever been somewhere with only the sea in all directions, imagine what it would feel like to begin a 2,688 km swim from there.

The antipode to Point Nemo, the point directly opposite it on Earth's surface, lies somewhere in Kazakhstan.

Croatian survey engineer Hrvoje Lukatela identified and named Point Nemo after Captain Nemo from Jules Verne's classic "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea." Lukatela faced challenges in determining its exact coordinates, such as choosing the edge of Ducie Atoll's tidal sandbar and Maher Island being beneath ice for most of the year.

Being so remote, space agencies use the area around Point Nemo as a spacecraft cemetery, sending old satellites and space debris to fall there. Likely, the closest people to Point Nemo are often those in the International Space Station passing overhead a mere 400km above.

Point Nemo is also known as the Oceanic Pole of Inaccessibility. In contrast, the continental point of inaccessibility—the point on land furthest from the ocean—is in northwestern China near Kazakhstan, a remarkable 2,645 km from the nearest shore.

Point Nemo has a lovely spread in Simon Kuestenmacher's book Marvellous Maps. Writing about Point Nemo makes me want to rewatch Life of Pi (and listen to the captivating music).

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