The Hawaiian island that simply disappeared

Cesar Mills
October 27, 2018

Although experts can not directly trace the shrinking of East Island to the effects of climate change, Clark said, it contributes to the strength and frequency of hurricanes like the one that overtook the island. This hurricane was really powerful and it was the category 4 storm which roared over the islands.

The team from the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument is expected to survey the effects of the hurricane later in the week.

The East Island eroded overnight during the powerful Hurricane Walaka that hit the region at the beginning of this month. (Supplied) The aerial photo of the Hawaii East Island shows how it became nearly completely submerged after the hurricane.

A statement by the federal managers of the monument said that East Island "appears to be under water", while the neighboring Tern island had its shape altered by the hurricane.

He said scientists realized the island had been destroyed after seeing a satellite image taken on October 18.

Chip Fletcher, a University of Hawaii scientist, wasn't surprised a hurricane - made more intense due to #climatechange - had wiped out East Island in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands, home to endangered seals and sea turtles. It was inhabited Hawaiian monk seals and green turtles, which shortly before the hurricane moved to the other Islands of the Hawaiian archipelago.

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Called East Island, it was located in an atoll known as the French Frigate Shoals, 885 kilometers (550 miles) from Honolulu. Fletcher added that it's another issue "in the wall of the network of ecosystem diversity on this planet that is being dismantled".

The same French Frigate Shoals used to serve as the main breeding ground for the seals.

The storm hit after most of the turtles and seals had migrated for the season, but they will still have to adjust to the new habitat when they return.

Scientists say the storm's massive surge, as well as rising sea levels resulting from climate change, factored into the island's disappearance.

"The take-home message is climate change is real and it's happening now", NOAA deputy superintendent of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument Randy Kosaki told Honolulu Civil Beat.

Charles Littnan, the director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's protected species division, said that it'll probably take several years to determine the impact of the island's disappearance on these species' future.

Other reports by GizPress

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