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.

There’s Good Reason Why People Act ‘Odd’ On Planes

There’s Good Reason Why People Act ‘Odd’ On Planes

It turns out there’s a reason why people cry hysterically, eat things they normally don’t crave and exhibit other odd behavior on a plane. A new study commissioned by the flight industry found that engine noise, cabin pressure, and stress could trigger physical and emotional changes that alter our behavior in the friendly skies. Crying […]

Parker Diakite

Amazon Prime Day 2019: Save On These Travel Accessories

Amazon Prime Day 2019: Save On These Travel Accessories

Outside of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Amazon’s Prime Day is one of the best days out of the year to catch a good deal. Prime Day, which begins on July 15 at 12:00 am PST and runs for 48 hours, offers its members huge discounts on a wide variety of products, including travel accessories. […]

Parker Diakite

Yes, You Can Still Travel To Cuba

Yes, You Can Still Travel To Cuba

There’s been some confusion as to whether Americans can travel to Cuba or not. The short answer is yes, but you have to plan strategically. Recently, the Trump administration banned cruise ships to the island and eliminated the “people-to-people” visa category that ultimately relaxed the travel restrictions to Cuba. Related Post: Trump Admin Halts Cruises […]

Parker Diakite