Satellite images that were released last week showed that East Island, a remote 11-acre stretch of sand that was officially part of the French Frigate Shoals in Hawaii has now disappeared. According to Science Alert, the island was wiped off the map following the storm surge that came along with Hurricane Walaka.
Hurricane Walaka was one of the most intense pacific hurricanes ever recorded.
With the disappearance of the island, it could potentially put local fish and wildlife in danger. Measuring half a mile long and 400 feet wide, the island was actually a crucial habitat for the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal as well as several species of seabirds. Apart from that, the island is also home to the Hawaiian green sea turtle, a threatened species. Prior to East Island’s disappearance, nearly half of the Hawaiian green sea turtles lay their eggs there.
Although potential losses have already been identified, it will probably take several years to fully comprehend what impact this loss will have on the species that called the island home.
Unfortunately, with the increase in the power of storms occurring in the region alongside imminent climate change, things would most likely only get worse from this point forward.
Although highly unlikely, there is still a bit of hope that the small island could reappear again one day. At the present moment, scientists are focusing on working out means to protect these island paradises from ever disappearing again.