Environment

The Hawaiian Island That is No More

East Island was a small island, but a nice island nonetheless. Found in the remote French Frigate Shoals, in the northeastern part of the Hawaiian Islands, the island formerly served a purpose as a navigation station, as well as a habitat for vulnerable species such as green sea turtles and monk seals.

The use of the past tense in the above paragraph may seem strange, but it is intentional. As of 2018, East Island no longer exists. The culprit? A category 5 hurricane that submerged the entire island earlier in October.

Were There Any Casualties?

Fortunately, the island was not inhabited at the time of the hurricane. However, scientists remain worried about the endangered animal species who live on the island. Luckily, it has been estimated that there was no significant loss of life for the two species as nesting is usually done at around the time of the hurricane. In addition, the Hawaiian monk seals, which number around 1,400 in the entire world, can navigate bad weather easily.

Why Did the Island Sink?

Before the island sank, it was already located almost at sea level. The small island was therefore easily submerged when the hurricane adding water to the sea, which caused the sea level to rise. Other sandy islands are also at risk. It is possible that a drop in the sea level could cause the reemergence of the island.

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