Friday, 23 November 2018

NW Hawaiian Island Vanished: Was Critical Breeding Ground for Turtles, Monk Seals & Birds - via Herp Digest

Sorry, A Belated Difference of Opinion- Variations of this article appeared all over the net, including the New York Times. But George Balazs, who has been studying green turtles in Hawaii for over 40 years has a less sensational view of the story. (See bottom)
Attribution: U.S. Dept of Fish & wildlife
East Island of French Frigate Shoals after major hurricane Walaka. The sand that made up the island can be seen underwater in the center of the image. Waves pushed it into a deep lagoon in the center of the shoals that were around the island.
Oct 23, 2018 
Seven government scientists, who were on teams that had been studying and protecting endangered monk seals, green turtles and sea birds at French Frigate shoals East Island for decades, had to evacuate East Island on October 2 ahead of category 4 hurricane Walaka, one of the strongest hurricanes on record in the central Pacific. The island was the breeding ground for about half of Hawaii’s endangered green sea turtles and 30% of Hawaii’s highly endangered monk seals. When scientists recently examined satellite photos after the hurricane they discovered the whole half-mile long 400 ft wide island had vanished.
East Island, French Frigate shoals, NWHI, before & after Hurricane Walaka About Hawaiian Hurricane Walaka washing away the green turtle (honu) nesting island of Hikina (East) in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands:
For rest of story: 
For another point of view, less alarmist, from someone who has been studying Hawaiian sea turtles for 40 years George Balazs
“Surely this is one of the most exciting times of my 48-year career working with Hawaiian green turtles! The loss of East Island at French Frigate Shoals started decades ago documented by photo evidence. It is part of a natural long term process where sand, unlike stone, comes and goes, accumulates and then washes away in cycles. Sea turtles for millennia have always been able to adapt to such changes. If they hadn't they would all have gone extinct long ago. The Hawaiian green turtle population is robust, durable and incredibly adaptive. They will figure out where to nest new and it will be insightful and amazing to watch it happen over the next few years. With Confidence in both Mother Nature and the Honu,” 

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