Home

Hawaii’s East Island Goes Missing After Category 5 Hurricane

By Sharelle Burt

Share

If planes going missing wasn’t enough, we can add missing islands to the list.

 

Hawaii’s East Island has vanished off the map. The island, located about 550 miles northwest of Honolulu, is part of a chain of small island groups in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. After the islands were swept by Hurricane Walaka, category 5 earlier this month, East Island was submerged.

 

Thankfully, the island isn’t home to residents but scientists are worried because it was home to some very special creature. Two of the world’s most endangered animals lived there, the Hawaiian green sea turtle and the Hawaiian monk seal. Almost 96% of Hawaii’s green turtle population travel to the island chain called the French Frigate Shoals. They nest there for safety during their breeding season, according to earth science professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa Chip Fletcher. For the Hawaiian monk seals, there’s only about 1,400 of them left in the whole world. The special creatures tend to live on a permanent vacation, spending most of their time on the island lying under the sun and resting on its beaches.

 

Fletcher says they’re usually able to navigate their way around during storms like this one but for the turtles, scientists had to move carefully. “As we moved around the island this past July, every single step we had to be careful because there was evidence of turtle nesting,” Fletcher told CNN. “But, thankfully, most of the eggs would have hatched and the hatchlings gone, by the time the hurricane hit.”

 

So how is it possible for whole islands to just disappear? The islands in that area are tiny slices of sand and gravel sitting on top of a submerged, extinct volcano. For East Island, Fletcher says it could stay underwater because of the climate change.

 

Sea level is rising around the world, these low sandy islands become more and more vulnerable as the ocean rises,” Fletcher said. “If the ocean was rising very slowly, there’s the potential that these islands could adapt, but rapid sea level rise, as is happening due to global warming, puts these islands out of equilibrium.”


 

Hurricane Walaka was just one of the several big storms that hit the Pacific this year, delivering winds of 157 mph. Fletcher says with warmer weather and warmer water being the reason behind storms getting stronger, don’t be surprised by other islands submerging underwater.

Share
Travel Noire

Sharelle Burt

Want more?

Get exclusive, unpublished tips from Travel Noire's CEO to help you get off the beaten path, into the hearts of locals and onto a better, more cultured life.

Unruly Passengers Are On The Rise & Here’s How They Get Away With It

Unruly Passengers Are On The Rise & Here’s How They Get Away With It

The number of disruptive passengers is increasing in the friendly skies, according to a report from the International Air Transport Association. The numbers, which were released back in 2017,  revealed that there is at least one unruly passenger for every 1,053 flights compared to the incident rate of one incident every 1,424 flights. IATA categorizes […]

Parker Diakite

Can You Guess Which Airline Mishandles The Most Bags In The Nation?

Can You Guess Which Airline Mishandles The Most Bags In The Nation?

With a sharp increase in canceled flights and a battle with union mechanics, it’s been a rough summer for American Airlines and their troubles don’t stop there. Turns out, they have a problem with handling passengers’ baggage as well. The airline recently ranked near the bottom in mishandled bags this year among major airliners, according […]

Parker Diakite

Wild Parties At Muhammad Ali’s Mansion Cause South Jersey Town To Ban Airbnbs

Wild Parties At Muhammad Ali’s Mansion Cause South Jersey Town To Ban Airbnbs

Some residents in New Jersey’s Cherry Township have had enough of the “wild parties” and “disruptions” at a home once owned by boxing legend Muhammad Ali. And it appears that county leaders are on their side after the Cherry Hill Township Council unanimously approved an ordinance that would ban Airbnb and other short-term rentals within […]

Parker Diakite