These 5 disappearing landmarks deserve a spot on every must-see list!

The Azure Window before the collapse. © Stafrace

The small island nation of Malta was rocked when the iconic Azure Window collapsed on March 8th, 2017. The rocky arch by the sea was featured in the holiday pictures of thousands of tourists, bright blue sea framed perfectly by the imposing structure. The precarious future of the arch had been discussed for many years before the fall, but even so, the realization that any chance to see it for yourself is now gone is disappointing. All those albums full of vacation snaps just can’t compare with the real thing!

I feel the disappointment quite keenly, as I have visited Malta, but on my trip, I opted out of the family outing to Gozo, (the island where the Azure Window was located) in favour of something I don’t even remember. Likely a nap…

So it got me thinking: What other iconic landmarks are in danger of disappearing? What should we see before it’s too late?

Venice, Italy

The city of canals is sinking between 1 to 2 millimetres each year. It is a small but insistent movement of the land into the sea. Coupled with rising sea levels in the Adriatic, (also of 1-2 mm annually,) the subsidence of Venice is up to 4 millimetres every year! Measures are being put in place to better manage the frequent flooding. According to some, these are not being put into place efficiently or quickly enough. Venice won’t become Atlantis in the near future, but you might want to get your O Sole Mio in while you can!

Ko Tapu “James Bond Island”

A popular daytrip from the town of Phuket, Thailand is to the rocky outpost of Ko Tapu. It was made popular by the 1974 James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun — to the point that it is now mostly referred to as James Bond Island. Erosion is the culprit causing the island spike to be included in the list. Motorboat traffic to the spot has been limited in a bid to keep the limestone from eroding at a (geologically) quick pace.  So while Diamonds are Forever, as the Azure Window has taught, limestone in the ocean, not so much.

Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is actually dying. It used to be the rate of evaporation was balanced by an equal influx of fresh water, primarily from the Jordan River. After an Israeli pumping station was built on the upper Jordan in the 1960s, water was diverted from the Dead Sea, and evaporation started to outpace the rate the sea was replenished by fresh water. That, as well as other water use policies that have not kept the health of the Dead Sea as a priority is one of the many reasons the waters of the inland sea continue to recede. Spas and hotels built in the early 1980s that were once seaside now offer shuttles to drive guests the distance to the new shoreline. You’ll want to see the Dead Sea before it’s the Dead Puddle!

Athabasca Glacier

This image is supplied courtesy of Brewster

Markers at the site of the ice age hold-out demonstrate just how far the glacier has receded in the time that scientists have been measuring it. It is a stark illustration. Climate change is public enemy number one here! To get an up close and personal look at the glacier, and if you are brave enough, take a walk across the Glacier Skywalk…a glass bottomed walkway that takes you over a cliff above the glacier for a view like no other!


Magdalen Islands Grosse Ile red rocks caving photo by Helen Earley

Red cliffs on Grosse-Ile: Each Island has a unique topography courtesy Helen Earley

The Magadelen Islands of Quebec are battered by wind and water in their spot in the Gulf of St Lawrence– meaning erosion of the rocky shores is a fact of life. The rate of erosion is slowed a bit by the sea ice that forms over the winter, buffering the wind and softening the lashes of storms. With climate change, however, the protective ice is less and less. One study suggests the ice will thin to the point it will offer no protection to the fragile sandstone shores withing 30 to 50 years! So if you want to experience this cool piece of maritime Quebec, get there quick!

We like to think of the timelessness of many world landmarks. Visiting them can connect us with history and shape our worldview. Threats to these spots make the time shorter that tourists will be able to visit. Which disappearing landmarks are on your must see list?