If you hear the name Nemo, you are likely to think of the fictional Clown Fish from the “Finding Nemo” movies. If you are a fan of science fiction you may know of Captain Nemo whose submarine is found in several of Jules Verne’s novels including “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.” If you live in Chicago, you may even think of the small chain of sub sandwich shops known as Capt’n Nemos. However, I doubt that you thought of Point Nemo.
Point Nemo (48°52.6′S 123°23.6′W) is not the kind of place you would want to visit on your vacation. That’s because there is not there there. It’s a spot in the Pacific Ocean but there is no land there. Quite the opposite, in fact. Point Nemo is the point on the Earth that is furthest away from any land. The nearest land to Point Nemo is Ducie Island, one of the Pitcairn Islands and it is 1,670 miles (2,688 kilometers) away to the north, Motu Nui in the Easter Islands to the northeast and Maher Island, part of Antarctica, to the south. The location of Point Nemo was determined in 1992 by survey engineer Hrvoje Lukatela. He stayed on dry land and used a computer. He did account for the planet’s ellipsoid shape to maximize accuracy.
Well, to be fair, there is one place that is closer to Point Nemo than the ones I mentioned, the International Space Station. It occasionally passes over Point Nemo at a height of 258 miles (416 km) so, technically, that is the closest place. Of course that’s not easy to get to either.
Commercial ships tend to avoid Point Nemo, not because it is dangerous but because there is no reason to go there. There are no two places on Earth that, to travel between them, would bring you near Point Nemo. It does serve a good purpose, however. Because it is so far away from everything NASA uses it to get rid of space junk like old satellites. What better place to have them crash that a spot in the ocean where no one – and Nemo is the Greek word for ‘no one’ – ever goes.
It’s not just humans that avoid Point Nemo either. The area is almost totally devoid of ocean life. A current known as the South Pacific Gyre blocks any nutrients from reaching the area. Since it is so far away from any land, there is no run-off either. No food, no life.
BBC Earth: The place furthest from land is known as Point Nemo http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20161004-the-place-furthest-from-land-is-known-as-point-nemo
National Ocean Service. “Where Is Point Nemo?” https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/nemo.html
Wikipedia: Pole of inaccessibility https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pole_of_inaccessibility