Hurricane Walaka Wipes Out East Island! Surveying The Devastation And Impact To Sea Turtles…

One of the world’s most beautiful – and smallest – islands is no more…as The Huffington Post Reports:


A powerful hurricane in the eastern Pacific washed away an 11-acre island in the French Frigate Shoals, part of a national monument in the remote northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

Approximately a half mile long and 400 feet wide, East Island was the second-largest islet in French Frigate Shoals ― an atoll some 550 miles northwest of Honolulu ― and a key habitat for the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal, the threatened Hawaiian green sea turtle and several species of seabirds.

Here is a satellite photo of East Island in 2014 – as you can see, it’s a microscopic island, so it wouldn’t take much to cause catastrophic damage…
a beautiful south seas paradise that exists only as long as the oceans don’t continue to rise… or a hurricane hits…

The Huffington Post goes on to report:

East Island was destroyed by storm surge from Hurricane Walaka, which roared through the northwestern Hawaiian Islands as a powerful Category 3 storm this month. Seven researchers, including three studying green sea turtles on East Island, were forced to evacuate from French Frigate Shoals before the storm.

This gives you an idea of the area, and the number of small islands in the French Frigate Shoals:

Here’s a comparison shared by Chip Fletcher on Facebook – the “before” and “After” of the island:

The Huffington Post goes on to report:

Charles Littnan, the director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s protected species division, told HuffPost it will likely take years to understand what the island’s loss means for these imperiled species.

The biggest concern, he said, is the persistent loss of habitat, which has been identified as a significant threat to monk seals and green sea turtles. Nearby Trig Island was also lost beneath the surface this year, not because of a storm but from high wave activity.

“These small, sandy islets are going to really struggle to persist” in a warming world with rising seas, Littnan said. “This event is confronting us with what the future could look like.”

French Frigate Shoals is the nesting ground for 96 percent of the Hawaiian green sea turtle population, and approximately half lay their eggs at East Island. Historically, it has been the “single most important” nesting site for the turtles, he said.

We will have to see what happens next, but this is sad news indeed.

Here is drone footage of the island before the hurricane – shared by Chip Fletcher on You Tube:

I have posted many stories about the impact that climate change is having on the south seas:

These islands are, in many cases, only feet above sea level, and rising oceans will mean the end to them….bravo to The Huffington Post for continuing to report on this – read the whole story here:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hawaii-east-island-lost-to-hurricane-walaka-french-frigate-shoals-climate-change_us_5bcf2a8ee4b055bc9484e803

I posted a story about a powerful book by J. Maartan Troost about an island he lived on – and his sobering returns years later to see the impact of climate change:

See more about his book here, along with an incredible documentary of one President fighting to save his country from going underwater – click here:


https://johnrieber.com/2016/08/17/the-dancing-olympian-the-fight-to-save-kiribati-paradise-underwater/

We’ll see what the future of East Island is…



Categories: Books / Media, Exotic Travel, nature, Travel, Travel Adventures, Travel Memoir, Uncategorized

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1 reply

  1. A powerful example of the force of nature, John. I hope those sea turtles manage to find a new place to lay their eggs.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

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