Tsunami Impacts on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge

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A tsunami generated by a powerful earthquake off the coast of Japan struck Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge at 11:36 PM on Thursday, March 10th and continued for the next few hours.  Fortunately, Midway residents received approximately 4 hours of advanced warning and successfully implemented its 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 returned unharmed to its nest area.  A minimum of 1,000 adult/subadult and tens of thousands of Laysan Albatross chicks were lost.  Thousands of Bonin petrels were buried alive. Spit Island completely washed over.  Eastern and Sand Island were 60% and 20% washed over, respectively.  Thousands of dead fish were found in the interior of Eastern.  Two live green turtles were rescued from the middle of Eastern.  The impacts on Laysan ducks and monk seals are unknown.