Hurricane sinks Hawaiian island

A Hawaiian monk seal lies on the sand in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. ©NOAA

A hurricane appears to have wiped out a remote Hawaiian island that served as important nesting grounds for threatened green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) and pupping grounds for endangered Hawaiian monk seals (Monachus schauinslandi). Satellite images showed East Island to be under water in the wake of Hurricane Walaka, which passed over the region, known as Frigate Shoals, in early October. Nearby Tern Island also appeared to be altered by the storm. Frigate Shoals are part of Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the northwestern Hawaiian islands. “The take-home message is climate is real and climate change is happening now,” Randy Kosaki, NOAA’s deputy superintendent of research and field operations for the monument, told The Washington Post. “It seems to be happening faster than any of us expected.”

Read the story in the Washington Post here.