We’re getting this article started on a happy note! The islands of Manukan, Mamutik and Sulug in Malaysia are graciously grouped to form a smiley, greeting visitors fortunate enough to view them from the air.
Wow, look, a boomerang, right in the middle of the South China Sea! If you want to spot it, you have a good chance to do so on a flight from Manila to Kuala Lumpur – about 45 minutes after take-off, advises photographer, Earl. The atoll is part of the Spratly Islands – an archipelago of over 750 islets, reefs, cays and islands – and is a real shape-shifter: depending on the season and the flow of the current, you may find a different form meets the eye.
As we can see from this image taken by the Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite in 2002, the largest island of the Galapagos Islands, Isabela Island, looks just like a seahorse – and an ancient one, too! The island was formed by volcanic eruptions that occurred millions of years ago. If you look closely, you can see the three craters of the volcanoes that created the island.
This incredible human eye, complete with retina and iris, can be found in the Maldives. Or, staying with the marine motif, perhaps it could be conceived of as a majestic jellyfish. Actually, of course, it’s a coral reef – or, according to photographer Mohamed Shareef, the birth of an island…
8. Cartoon figure
Described by NASA as “sparkl[ing] like green gems against the sapphire-blue waters of the Indian Ocean and Flores, Banda, Sawu, and Timor Seas,” the Lesser Sunda Islands in Indonesia sure are beautiful – even when seen from as far away as space. But, in their midst, there is one truly strange character. Can you make out the large head, eye and open mouth of this cartoon figure?
The Danish island pictured here is Æbelø in the sea of Kattegat, just off the north coast of Funen (Denmark’s third-largest island). With its triangular shape and long ‘tail’, it really does look like a stingray. Don’t miss that cloud above trying to mimic the island’s shape!
These lungs appear complete with a trachea and bronchi (that’ll be the road)! The bronchioles, meanwhile, come courtesy of the lush vegetation, turning the island into a real set of ‘green lungs’. Was such an aerial design the intention of the owners of this luxury villa with swimming pool and tennis court on an islet in the Florida Keys? Surely not! But it certainly works!
5. Venetian mask
This image shows Huvahendhoo Island, one of the many islands of the Maldives. Doesn’t this islet look like a Venetian carnival mask, with its different eye ornamentation?
The Maldives is a real treasure trove when it comes to finding islands of all shapes and sizes. There are a total of 1,190 coral islands grouped in a double chain of 26 atolls, meaning there are lots to choose from. The Maldives is spread out over about 90,000 sq km – making it one the world’s most dispersed countries. Yet sadly, its islands are also some of the most at risk. With an average ground level of just 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in), the Maldives is the lowest country on Earth, and due to global warming and rising sea levels, its islands are sinking – slowly but surely. Let’s enjoy this beauty while we still can.
This incredible island was snapped while photographer Badruddeen took off from the Male International Airport, in the Maldives. With its longish shape and thick top, it makes the perfect carrot – as if it’s waiting right smack in the middle of the ocean for a giant marine rabbit to gobble it up!
This tree comes courtesy of the Isles of Scilly, off the coast of Cornwall. It’s quite an elaborate oversized shrub, with a trunk, branches, foliage, and even soil and roots at its base. Nature at its best!
Yep, this island looks like what you most likely think it does: a lonesome sperm cell swimming in the big blue sea. Unfortunately, we don’t know much more about this landmass other than that it was snapped somewhere on a flight between Europe and Japan. Any hints appreciated!
‘Lover’s Island’ just off the Croatian coast is one of the few naturally occurring heart shapes on Earth. Actually called Galešnjak, it is a privately owned island located in the Adriatic Sea, close to the town of Turanj. Full of wild plants and trees, but little else, this sleepy isle came to worldwide attention because of its unusual shape in February 2009, when it was publicized by Google Earth.