An intense hurricane in the Pacific has dried almost a whole Hawaiian island off the map. The island, about 550…
An intense hurricane in the Pacific has dried almost a whole Hawaiian island off the map.
The island, about 550 miles northwest of Honolulu, was about 400 meters wide and a half mile long and was home to critically threatened Hawaiian monk seal and threatened Hawaiian green turtle. The small, remote Hawaiian island swept by the powerful hurricane Walaka earlier this month. Researchers have confirmed the island’s disappearance after comparing satellite images from the US fish and wildlife before and after the hurricane.
“The East seems to be underwater.” Researchers said in a statement.
Dangerous hurricane Walaka began southwest of the Hawaiian Islands in September 29th. On October 3, the hurricane intensified as it moved to the north and caused devastating impact on most of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Central Pacific. Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world and the eastern island was part of a small beer chain in this region.
More than 90 percent of Hawaiian’s green turtle population spends its breeding season, known as French frigate shoals, for safe nesting. Of the nearly half of them lived on the eastern island.
“There is no doubt that it was the most important single sea turtle turtle.” National biologist Charles Littnan (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA) told the Civic Beat, who first reported the island’s disappearance.
Researchers are concerned about how much habitat loss affects the species. They think that a collapse is imminent if we do not take urgent and coordinated action.
“The species is resistant to a point,” says Littnan. “But there may be a point in the future where resistance is not enough anymore.”
Researchers studied Hawaii eastern island before hurricane Walaka hit it. They already knew that the island could disappear when climate change strengthens sea level.
Dr Chip Fletcher, a soil science professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa says. “The island was probably one to two thousand years old and we were only there in July, so because it would get lost now it’s quite bad luck.”