New Moore Island | One more island sinking into the sea

An inflatable globe toy bouncing across the water.

New Moore Island is just one of many islands that are sinking into the sea. Image from Flickr.

New Moore Island is just one of dozens of islands around the world that are slowly but surely sinking into the sea. Situated between India and Bangladesh, New Moore Island has long been the subject of a diplomatic dispute between the two countries. Residents of Bangladesh have long since taken a short term loan of living space on other, drier shores, but the issue will only get worse as time goes on. Rising sea levels have claimed more than just New Moore Island, but this tiny disputed island is bringing more attention to the issue than ever before.

New Moore Island by any other name

The disputed New Moore Island was a tiny chunk of land – less than 2 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. The government of India claimed the island as part of its territory, saying that New Moore Island fell within established maritime borders. However, the government of Bangladesh also claims the island, which they call South Talpatti.

There have never been any permanent settlements on New Moore Island. The island came under dispute only about 40 years ago, when New Moore Island/South Talpatti appeared after the Bhola cyclone. India had at one point established a base on South Talpatti/New Moore Island, but international opinion was split on the question.

Rising sea levels engulf New Moore Island

The School of Oceanographic Studies in Calcutta reported to the BBC recently that New Moore Island had been entirely engulfed by rising sea waters. Confirmed by local fishermen and satellite pictures, New Moore Island is officially no more. Before the year 2000, sea levels in most of the world went up by approximately 3 millimeters a year, but between 2000 and 2010 sea level has risen at about 5 millimeters per year. In the Bengal Basin region and Sundarban Island chain, where New Moore Island was situated, sea levels have been rising by about 3.14 centimeters a year. New Moore Island is the fifth island in the Sundarbans to sink into the sea – preceded by Bedford, Lohachara, Kabasgadi, and Suparibhanga.

Other island nations at risk

New Moore Island and the Sundarban Island chains are not the only islands at risk of sinking into the ocean. The Maldives, an island nation in the Indian ocean, has been losing land mass to the sea for years. The highest point in the Maldives is only 8 feet above ocean level, so even a high tide can cause problems for residents. The government of the Maldives is building an artificial island called Hulhumale nearby for residents to move to. Tuvalu, a Pacific Ocean island between Hawaii and Austrailia, is also quickly losing land mass. Tuvalu has 11,000 residents, and experts estimate the island will be entirely engulfed by the sea in as little as 50 years. Each year, 75 Tuvalu residents can use military personal loans to move to New Zealand – but many more are left behind. Tonga, Kirbati, and the Marshall Islands are also at risk of disappearing just like New Moore Island did.

How to stop the sinking?

In the end, there is no way to accurately measure the cause and effect of small islands ending up in the ocean. Sea levels rise and fall regularly, and island land masses can also rise and sink on their own. There are also arguments about if the increased water levels are due to global climate change or natural variations in the climate. No matter who or what is to blame, though, island nations that are sinking are being forced to find solutions – because there is not yet a way to simply stop the rise and fall of an island in the ocean.


Times of India
BBC News