Home of the Hawaiian Monk Seal and Green Sea Turtles, a Hurricane and Climate Change are responsible for an entire Island in the State of Hawaii to vanish. This Hawaiian Island, part of Honolulu County was wiped out after hit this month by Category 5 Hurricane Walaka. Formed on September 29, Walaka was one of the most intense Pacific hurricanes on record.
By minimum pressure, Walaka is the second-strongest tropical cyclone in central Pacific, alongside Hurricane Gilma in 1994, and is only surpassed by Hurricane Ioke in 2006. The storm dissipated on October 9, 2018 after passing over the North Hawaiian Islands.
The island was part of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The Leeward Islands are the small islands and atolls in the Hawaiian island chain located northwest (in some cases, far to the northwest) of the islands of Kauai and Niihau. Politically, they are all part of Honolulu County in the U.S. State of Hawaii, except Midway Atoll, which is grouped as one of the United States Minor Outlying Island
These Hawaiian Islands are one of the most remote places on Earth, threatened by climate change, pollution, and politics. This Island is home of the most important nesting site for green sea turtles. This Island disappeared as one of the Northern Hawaiian Islands and a critical habitat for endangered species.
Only two minuscule slivers of East Island have resurfaced since a Category 5 Hurricane struck the region and washed away the 11-acre strip of sand and gravel that is part of the French Frigate Shoals.
An example of the power and the potential of nature made this island 550 miles northwest of Honolulu vanish.
The Island was part of the French Frigata Shoals, and the nesting site for 96 percent of the of the world’s Hawaiian green sea turtle population. The tiny islet has been host to 50 percent of those breeding turtles.
The island was also home to critically endangered Hawaiian monk seals. Sometimes you see monk seals swimming as far as Oahu and are a frequent tourist attraction on Oahu’s North Shore. Each year about 200 of the seals visit East Island and about 30 seals have their pups there. Only about 1,400 of the animals are left in the world.
The powerful storm — one of the most intense hurricanes on record to strike the region — hit at the very end of the breeding season.
NOAA’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center estimates only one monk seal mother and pup remained on the island when Hurricane Walaka struck. 120 turtles nested this season, a significant drop from previous years when 800 or more nested on the island.
he Northwestern Hawaiian Islands is one of the most remote places on Earth.
Most people will never get to see or experience the stunning untouched nature of this protected and remote part of the Aloha State.