Remote Hawaiian island that once hosted a Coast Guard radio station was wiped out
By ALLYSON CHIU | The Washington Post | Published: October 25, 2018
If you aren't a researcher studying the threatened green sea turtle, endangered monk seals, or the albatross, chances are you've probably never heard of East Island.
For centuries, the islet peeked out from the turquoise and azure waters of the Pacific Ocean about 550 miles northwest of Honolulu in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. The 11-acre patch of sand and loose gravel was often frequented by sea turtles, monk seals and albatrosses, which returned there year after year to nest and raise their young, safe from human threats.
But the next time these animals come back to their haven, it likely won't be there. In early October, East Island was decimated by Hurricane Walaka - one of the most intense storms ever recorded in the Pacific Ocean - and effectively wiped off the map overnight.
"I was absolutely shocked," Randy Kosaki, NOAA's deputy superintendent of research and field operations for the monument, told The Washington Post. Kosaki said scientists first learned of the island's near total destruction on Friday when they saw a satellite image taken Oct. 18.
East Island was the second-largest islet - roughly half a mile long and 400 feet wide - in the French Frigate Shoals northwest of Honolulu. Believed to have formed about 2000 years ago, it hosted a U.S. Coast Guard radio station from 1944 to 1952.