East Island, a four hectare slice of sand and gravel northwest of Hawaii’s main islands, has completely disappeared from the map after being hit by a category 5 hurricane. The island sits on top of a submerged, extinct volcano and was apparently formed after the sea levels fell.
But due to the rapid sea levels rising brought about by climate change and storm surges and waves from Hurricane Walaka, the island is now completely submerged and scientists fear that neighboring islands may follow suit.
Despite being uninhabited by humans, East Island is a known refuge and nesting site for endangered species such as the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles and the Hawaiian Monk Seal. Luckily, most of the eggs laid on the island have hatched before the hurricane struck.
East Island and its neighboring islands are located in the largest marine reserve in the world called the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Scientists are currently monitoring the remaining islands to further assess the damage and impact on the wildlife in the area.
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