How long does an island have to exist before it deserves a name?
That's the question that's fueling an heated debate around the Pacific island territory of Tonga, which added to its landmass earlier this year when a volcanic island erupted from the ocean floor.
Earth's newest island is only about a mile long and was created after a underwater eruption in January. Scientists aren't even sure it will remain above sea-level, but photos taken by the first three visitors to step on its surface drew world-wide attention last week.
One of the three, charter boat owner Branko Sugar, told NBC News via email that the new land deserved a name and suggested Zandy, after his son, seen in the photo above, who was the first person to touch the black volcanic soil.
The government, however, wants to wait to see if the island has staying power. Tonga’s Justice Minister Hon Vuna Fāʻotusia told the Kaniva News paper that the authorities are awaiting geographical confirmation that the island's future above water is secure.
“Normally the king names new islands but the cabinet has no resolution yet to decide a name,” he said.
Sugar, who visited alongside Zandy and Tongan hotel owner GP Orbassano on March 6, recalled they spent 3-4 hours on the island on a very hot day, He estimated the temperature, maximized by the sun's reflection on the black sand and soil, was about 120 degrees Farenheit.
But he remains enthralled by the new island and plans a return visit. "We will explore the sulfur lake more closely next time," he said.