The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument's website states there is a marine debris team working in the area that will stop at French Frigate Shoals and conduct a "preliminary assessment of the damage and impacts to wildlife". Most of the turtles had already left the island by the time the storm hit. They were trying to determine the age of the island and determine its future, particularly in regard to climate change.
Researchers confirmed this week that East Island, a remote part of the Hawaiian chain, was washed off the map by Hurricane Walaka, one of the nine tropical cyclones worldwide to reach Category 5 strength in 2018.
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Hawaii's East Island vanished overnight after being walloped by Hurricane Walaka.
He was the second-largest island in French Frat-shoals is the largest Atoll of the northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
Sharing this drone footage of the 11-acre island on YouTube in July this year, Dr Chris Fletcher wrote that it was a critical habitat for green sea turtles, monk seals, and many types of sea birds.
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There are thought to be just 1,400 individual Hawaiian monk seals, meaning they are classified as critically endangered. NOAA's Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center estimates only one monk seal mother and pup remained on the island when Hurricane Walaka struck. Fletcher said that they wanted to monitor the island and are disappointed that it is gone; however, they have learned that the islands are more at risk than previously thought.
He said scientists realized the island had been destroyed after seeing a satellite image taken on October 18. He said that he felt that there would be just one more shrink for this planet to end.
But it is possible that East Island will resurface and the turtles and seals will return to their seasonal homes.
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Randy Kosaki, a deputy superintendent of research and field operations at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told The Washington Post that researchers have expected low-lying islands like East Island to vanish under rising sea levels.