A remote part of the chain of Hawaiian Islands has been erased from the map after being washed away by a powerful hurricane earlier this month. About half used East Island, Littnan said.
Despite its size, the island played an important role for wildlife, including the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal, a species that numbers just 1,400 individuals, with numerous seals raising their young on East Island.
Until now, it supported a wide variety of coral, fish, birds, and marine mammals, many of which can't be found outside of the Hawaiian Islands. This information was confirmed and environmentalists, providing the first images of the new terrain.
Chip Fletcher from the University of Hawaii told Honolulu Civil Beat, 'I had a holy shit moment, thinking, "Oh my God, it's gone". He said that he felt that there would be just one more shrink for this planet to end.
The French Frigate Shoals researchers were monitoring and studying about the green turtles and the monk seals in the mid of October in that Island at the time when Hurricane approached there.
Hurricane Walaka peaked at a Category 5 storm, the most potent wind speed on the 1-5 Saffir-Simpson scale, and was the second strongest cyclone to ever to strike the Pacific region. Green sea turtles, which are also threatened, and seabirds such as albatrosses, which often had their young preyed upon by circling tiger sharks, also depended on the island.
The storm hit after most of the turtles and seals had migrated for the season, but they will still have to adjust to the new habitat when they return.
The scientists were in the middle of researching the island, using drones and sand samples to estimate how much longer it could survive due to climate change.
"The take home message is climate change is real and it's happening now", Randy Kosaki, the monument's deputy superintendent for research and field operations for NOAA, told Honolulu CB.
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.