Hawaii's Animals 

Marine & Land Animals of Hawaii

Many of the animals of Hawaii are quite beautiful, some quite strange and all pretty interesting.  What's really cool is that 90 percent of Hawaii's plants and animals (more than 10,000 species), including the Hawaiian monk seal, are native only to Hawaii.

I had the opportunity while a teacher here to work with knowledgeable volunteers in teaching students about these amazing  animals of Hawaii. 

You can view many of these animals in Hawaii by snorkeling, kayaking, taking dolphin and whale watch tours, or just walking along the beaches and trails.
Let's take a look at some of these...

Hawaii Dolphins

Several species of dolphins live in Hawaii; the most common to Hawaii are the bottlenose, spinner and spotted dolphins. The ones we most often see see near Hawaii's shores are the bottlenose and spinner. Learn about the world's favorite cetacean; read my article: "Hawaii Dolphins" 

Hawaii Whales

The humpback is the Hawaii State 
Marine Mammal.Many whales live in Hawaii's waters year round – sperm whales, pilot whales, false killer whales and more. 

Continued next column.
From December through April, the humpback whales, about 6,000 in all, migrate from Alaska's waters to mate, give birth and raise their calves in Hawaii's warmer and less predator ridden waters. 

While the humpback whale is an endangered species, there are many places you can view whales off any of the Hawaiian Islands - from shore, on a whale watch cruise, and sometimes even while snorkeling or scuba diving!

Listen to the humpbacks courtesy of NOAA 

Hawaiian Turtles

Honu, Hawaiian green sea turtle haul themselves up on the beaches to bask in the sun, while the hawksbill only comes to land to lay her eggs. Both of these sea turtles are seen at Punalu`u Beach on the Big Island. You can also see the the green sea turtles in the waters at many of Hawaii's beaches. 


One may swim right up to you in the shallows at some beaches like Keauhou in Kona  but don't touch because our oils harm their shells and can make them sick. 

The hawksbill is listed as endangered and Hawaii's green sea turtle (honu) is listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.  
Hawaiian spinner dolphins
 Hawaiian spinner dolphins seen from tour off Oahu's Waianae Coast.  Image courtesy of Wild Side Specialty Tours,

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Hawaiian monk seal
Nene Goose Hawaii State Bird
 Hawaiian monk seal courtesy of NOAA. 
Birds of Hawaii

The endangered Hawaiiian Nene Goose is the Hawaii State Bird (pictured here).  
Most of the population is in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. Hawaii is home to hundreds of species of birds, many of them on the Endangered List.  

The Scarlet Hawaiian honeycreeper (pictured here), or in Hawaiian, the I`iwi, is one of the islands' most commonly found native birds; however many of the Hawaiian honeycreepers are endangered. The honeycreepers use their long beaks to sip nectar from flowers. 

Hawaii's birds also include the endemic  Pueo (a short-eared Hawaiian owl);   several species of song birds; various seabirds, such as the albatross; non-native birds such as peacocks, wild turkeys,  cardinals and many more. See the resources below for more info. 

More Hawaii Animals

Geckos and chameleons are among the cool reptiles commonly seen in Hawaii's gardens and jungles. Insects include really creepy ones like centipedes but also beautiful ones like this Kamehameha butterfly, Hawaii's state insect
Scarlet Hawaiian Honeycreeper Iiwi
Fishes in Hawaii seas include sharks, moray eels, several species of colorful tropical fish and many more. Hawaii's State Fish is the  rectangular trigger fish, known in the islands by its Hawaiian name, the humuhumunukunukuapua`a (translates to trigger fish with a pig-like snout). 

Hawaii's coral reefs are home to over 5,000 species,  and 25 percent of these are found nowhere else on Earth. 

The coral reef is living and fragile, so when snorkeling or swimming, show aloha by not stepping on the reef. Kids and grown-ups, swimmers and non-swimmers can experience Hawaii's coral reefs. 

Some of these underwater gardens teeming with marine life are within wading distance from shore too, such as at Hanauma Bay on Oahu, and snorkeling cruises that take you out to places like the marine preserve of Kealakekua Bay in Kona often provide flotation devices. 

There's also the Waikiki Aquarium and Maui Ocean Center for those who don't want to get in the water. 
Animals of Hawaii Educational & Activity Resources

Hawaii Forests & Wildlife Free Coloring & Activity Pages for Kids 

Hawaiian Monk Seal at Defender's of Wildlife site. Adopt a seal program, facts and pictures. 

Wild Dolphin Foundation   Works to protect Hawaii's dolphins. 

Bishop Museum Hawaiian Birds Page

Hawaii Audubon 

World Turtle Trust  serves as a link between sea turtle conservation projects around the world and people who wish to help them. 

Turtle Trax  Maui photos of Hawaiian sea turtle house, lots of updated information. Education site created by sea turtle advocates Peter Bennett and Ursula Keuper-Bennett. 

Pacific & Hawaii Whale Education, Gifts Foundation The Pacific Whale Foundation offers an excellent resource page. Also has a nice store with marine life related gifts and apparel.

Hawaii Humpback Whale Songs, Photos
Cetacean Society International is an all volunteer, non-profit conservation, education, and research organization based in the USA, with volunteer representatives in 26 countries around the world. Learn how you can help.  Listen to the songs of humpback whales. Free photo gallery. Book and tape recommendations. 

Whale Watching in Hawaii  Hawaii's official tourism site. Read articles and watch "Mystery of Whales" video.

Waikiki Aquarium Take a virtual tour! 

Swim with Hawaii Dolphins andTurtles, See Hawaii's Whales Year-Round
Ethical and educational dolphin swims, whale watching tours and more. 

Maui Ocean Center State-of-the-art marine park on Maui.

Hawaii Animals at Volcanoes National Park  Learn about the park's eco-system including endangered animals unique to Hawaii, such as the nene goose. .

Hawaiian Monk Seal 

The Hawaiian monk seal is one of the most endangered animals on the planet. It is the Hawaii State Mammal. Most of the estimated 1,100 population lives on Hawaii's uninhabited atolls, but about 100 live on Kauai and a few are seen around the other islands.If you do see one in the wild, please "Don't Disturb!"  Take pictures and enjoy from a distance. 
Hawaii animal Images, educational resources, video and facts are all part of this page I created based on my personal and teaching experiences in Hawaii and research. There is also info on seeing these amazing animals up close, whether from the beach or trail, at an aquarium, or on a  dolphin / whale-watching tour. Don't worry about clicking on links in this article - they are to help you navigate or learn more. I've always loved animals. I lived in Hawaii for about 14 years, mostly on the Big Island where coral reefs teeming with tropical fish and turtles were my swimming pools, and where the rain forest, and at one point, Kilauea Volcano was my backyard. If you don't find an animal you're looking for, use the contact info below to send me an email request, and I'll add the information or point you in a good direction. Aloha!