A tsunami generated by the powerful earthquake off the coast of Japan struck Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge at 11:36 PM on Thursday, March 10, and continued for the next few hours.
Fortunately, Midway residents received approximately four hours of advanced warning and successfully implemented their tsunami emergency plan. All essential infrastructure and equipment were secured and all staff, contractors, and visitors evacuated to the third floor of the Charlie Hotel. Fortunately, no one was injured and no major damage occurred to the island’s infrastructure. Debris washed onto the airfield which caused its temporary closure for less than 24 hours.
The short-tailed albatross nest was washed over again, but the chick was found unharmed about 35 m away and carried back to its nest cup. A minimum of 1000 adult/subadult and tens of thousands of laysan albatross chicks were lost. Thousands of Bonin petrels were buried alive. Spit Island was completely washed over. Eastern and Sand Island were 60 percent and 20 percent washed over, respectively. Thousands of dead fish were found in the interior of Eastern Island. Two live green turtles were rescued from the middle of Eastern. The impacts on laysan ducks and monk seals are unknown.
See pictures of the tsunami's impact at the PETE AT MIDWAY Blog.
Learn more about the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.
SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Photo Caption: These two Laysan albatross were among the wildlife rescued by Service employees and volunteers. Credit: Pete Leary/USFWS