Hawaiian island disappeared from the face of the earth after the storm

Researchers confirmed East Island in the French Frigate Shoals received significant damage as a result of Hurricane Walaka — a powerful Category 4 storm — roaring over the islands

Hawaiian Island erased by one of 2018's many Cat 5 storms

While the hurricane spared the most populated big islands, East Island and neighboring Tern Island took a beating.

The islands in that area are mostly tiny slices of sand and gravel sitting on top of a submerged, extinct volcano.

At this time it remains unclear whether the island will resurface again, the media outlet notes, as an islet named Whale-Skate Island vanished from French Frigate Shoals in the 1990s and has not reappeared since.

A piece of the United States has been dramatically wiped off the map after an island in Hawaii was washed away by a powerful hurricane.

No humans lived on the island, but it was a vital habitat for species like the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal, green sea turtles and albatrosses.

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The disappearance of the island could indeed put local fish and wildlife in danger.

Hurricane Walaka, which battered the remote French Frigate Shoals early October, has devoured one of the atoll's islets, satellite images have revealed.

"I had a holy s**t moment, thinking 'Oh my God, it's gone, '" Chip Fletcher, a University of Hawaii climate scientist, told Honolulu Civil Beat. As the hurricane was about to descend on the archipelago, seven researches studying endangered green sea turtles and monk seals were evacuated.

Fletcher said, 'It's one more chink in the wall of the network of ecosystem diversity on this planet that is being dismantled'.

When the turtles return next year, they may try to find another island on which to nest, Littnan said. It was used to breed under threat of extinction, monk seals, and rare for today is a kind of green turtle.

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The powerful storm - one of the most intense hurricanes on record to strike the region - hit at the very end of the breeding season.

Randy Kosaki, deputy superintendent for research and field operations for NOAA at the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, said the inundation of the island can't be directly tied to climate change, according to the Honolulu Civil Beat.

Scientists say the storm's massive surge, as well as rising sea levels resulting from climate change, factored into the island's disappearance.

Charles Littnan, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's protected species division, explained to HuffPost that it could take years to understand what impact this loss will have on the species that called it home.

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