The animals in Hawaii are truly unique. Not only is Hawaii one of the most diverse landscapes in the world, but is also the most isolated. As a result, the variety of wildlife here is quite diverse.
1. Monk Seal
There are only two mammals native to the island of Hawaii. One is the Hawaiian monk seal, the state mammal of Hawaii. These seals can be hard to find and almost went extinct in the 1990’s. The Hawaiian Monk Seal is one of only two remaining species of monk seals in the world. The other is the Mediterranean Monk Seal.
If you want to catch a glimpse of the Hawaiian monk seal, you can do so by taking a wildlife tour. Sightings are not guaranteed, but if you’re lucky you just might spot the graceful animal.
2. Green Sea Turtles
These large sea turtles are known as “Honu” by the locals, and can be found in shallow waters near the shore. Two popular places for seeing these turtles are the North Shore, and Laniakea Beach. These turtles are friendly, and if you’re snorkeling in these areas, one might just come up right next to you!
3. Hoary Bat
The other mammal that is native to the Hawaiian islands is the Hawaiian Hoary bat. These types of bats are their own species, although they are closely related to the Hoary Bats in North, Central and South America. There are also species of Hoary bats on the Galapagos Islands!
4. Humpback Whale
The Humpback whale was almost hunted out of existence in the 90’s, but since becoming an endangered and protected species, they have been making a comeback.
Here in Hawaii, whale watching is quite the experience. Since they migrate to their Hawaiian breeding grounds every year between November and April, this is the perfect place to see these amazing animals.
5. Manta Ray
You’ve likely seen a sting ray in an aquarium, but something you likely won’t see is a Manta Ray. These rays are simply too large to live in most aquariums. They range in size from 18 to 23 feet in width, which is half the length of a humpback whale.
6. Nene Goose
Hawaii’s state bird is the Nene Goose. It is the rarest goose in the world!
While it was once more common in Hawaii, its population has slowly decreased. Because of this, these birds are hard to find, and you will likely only see them if you’re on Kauai or the Big Island.
Mongoose were released onto the islands in the 1800s to decrease the rat population. The mongoose is Hawaii’s replacement for squirrels. Hawaii has no squirrels, but the mongoose is a similar replacement, at least in looks.
Unfortunately, the mongoose has had negative effects on the bird population and is considered an invasive species since they often eat birds and bird eggs.
The chameleon came into the wild in Hawaii in the early 1970s and is considered an invasive species. While there are no special tours to see chameleons, you can still spot them while hiking. The three-horned Jackson Chameleons (also known as the Kikuyu Three Horned Chameleon) is originally native to East Africa (Kenya and Tanzania, mostly), but has since been introduced to Hawaii, Florida and California.
The fact is you can tell which ones are males since they are the ones with the three horns.
9. Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin
Unlike the well-known but less common Bottlenose Dolphin, Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins are the less aggressive, friendlier members of the dolphin family. And Hawaii is one of the best places in the world to see and experience dolphins in their natural habitat.
They are called spinners for their tendency to jump out of the water and spin around. The Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins are one of four species of spinner dolphins in the world.
Yes, there are sharks everywhere, but that doesn’t make them less interesting! Hawaii is a great place to shark-see, as there are over 41 species of sharks in Hawaiian waters. You can find a ton of different species in Hawaii. Tiger, bull, hammerhead, and many more are present here. The white-tip reef shark is a common species in Hawaii.