At the beginning of October, Hurricane Walaka swept by many of Hawaii’s smaller islands.
In the hurricane’s wake, East Island, part of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii, completely disappeared underwater. The tiny 11-acre island was hit front and center by the storm. This small volcanic outcrop was formed just like other Hawaiian islands, from underwater volcanoes. They came to the surface when the sea levels dropped.
East Island was not habited by people. However, it was a vital nesting site for endangered sea turtles and monk seals. Scientists estimate that up to 96% of sea turtles nest in those islands and many monk seals rest on its beaches. They are worried that with the dwindling populations for each species, the disappearing habitats could further damage the populations.
There is a small possibility that the water levels will lower and East Island will appear again. However, scientists warn that part of the reason that is unlikely to happen is due to global warming. With the water rising due to temperature increases, many other shallow islands could follow suit.
Sources: CNN, LiveScience