Storm wipes Hawaiian island off map

Pablo Tucker
October 27, 2018

In addition to the swamped East Island, the aerial survey showed "alterations" to neighbouring Tern Island.

Hawaii island East island (East) are completely gone under water due to hurricane "Balak". (Supplied) The aerial photo of the Hawaii East Island shows how it became nearly completely submerged after the hurricane.

According to researchers, the disappearance of the whole island does not go unnoticed - coming serious consequences.

In the satellite images released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, only a tiny sliver of the island can be seen peeking out from beneath the sea.


Chip Fletcher, a University of Hawaii climate scientist, told the Honolulu Civil Beat this week he was stunned at the news.

The low-lying island, with its sandy composition, wasn't much of a match for the storm in early October, which started off as a Category 5 hurricane and created large storm swells, Clark said. Fletcher said that they wanted to monitor the island and are disappointed that it is gone; however, they have learned that the islands are more at risk than previously thought. In particular, noted climatologist negative effect on the population of monk seals and green sea turtles.

East Island was a low-lying island composed mainly of loose sand and gravel and was home to threatened nesting green sea turtles and endangered Hawaiian monk seals.

Fletcher said, 'It's one more chink in the wall of the network of ecosystem diversity on this planet that is being dismantled'.


The island had been part of the French Frigate Shoals, an atoll in the far western reaches of the Hawaiian archipelago. But climate change is warming the ocean and atmosphere, leading to more powerful and frequent storms.

The powerful storm - one of the most intense hurricanes on record to strike the region - hit at the very end of the breeding season.

Randy Kosaki, the monument's deputy superintendent for research and field operations for NOAA, told Honolulu CB: "The take home message is climate change is real and it's happening now".

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.


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