Awesome Animals In Hawaii: Deadly Wildlife From Land To Sea

Martha Martins
Oct 06, 2023 By Martha Martins
Originally Published on Oct 14, 2021
Laysan albatross flying high

Hawaii consists of 137 islands.

These islands are home to approximately 21,383 species consisting of 10,000-10,500 native species, 8,759 endemic species including the most famous Hawaiian monk seal and Hawaiian hoary bat. Only 100 - 150 species are well known and spotted often.

The rest of them are rare visitors of the Hawaiian islands coming to either rest or give birth. Hawaii is one of the marine and wildlife rich areas.

If you take a wildlife tour in Hawaiian islands you will encounter a huge number of animals that you have never heard of. Most creatures do not pose a threat, however you are not completely safe in Hawaii due to the presence of a handful of poisonous animals in Hawaii.

The chances of coming in contact with these wild animals are relatively low. The ocean has a lot of rare species like the green sea turtles and many critically endangered creatures as well.

Most of the wildlife in Hawaii is diverse and found nowhere in the world. The ocean shores hold a huge surprise as this is where you will find the most dangerous animals.

While movies like the shallows and jaws portray a completely different side of sharks, the ones in Hawaii are not a great threat. Everybody's favorite dolphins like the spinner dolphins, though not fatal, can sometimes attack humans.

There are only one or two shark attacks per year, which are relatively low. Did you know the Hawaiian hoary bat and the Hawaiian monk seal are the only two endemic mammals in the Hawaiian islands?

We have curated a bunch of interesting information about the Hawaiian wildlife. Do not miss out on them and keep reading.

If you are interested in knowing more about animals, check out other articles on animals in Arizona and animals in the Taiga.

Types Of Animals That Live In Hawaii

Hawaii islands are home to a wide range of species. It is one of the most wildlife abundant areas with around 21,000 species. There are several land and marine animals. There are also some dangerous animals in Hawaii.

While it is not possible to fit all of Hawaii's animals in one article we will take a look at the most common and famous species. Finding a beach in Hawaii is one of the easiest things as there is one in every corner.

You will definitely come across sharks, whales, and dolphins. Several whales like the melon head whales, short finned pilot whales, and sperm whales are found in this region.

Humpback whales are the ones with the most admirers. These whales are very gentle and are more curious about us than we are about them. Whales can be spotted on almost all beaches, however the best place to witness them is the luau channel between Maui island and lanai island.

There are 18 species of dolphins. The most common ones are the Hawaiian spinner dolphins.

It is not just common but also popular for its enticing above water acrobatic displays. The Hawaiian monk seal is an Endangered species only found in the Hawaiian waters.

It is one among the three monk seal species, the Mediterranean monk seal, and one other extinct species, the Caribbean monk seal. You will get a glimpse of the Hawaiian monk seal if you take a wildlife tour.

Next, we have the Hawaiian hoary bat. This is not a very common species and is listed as an endangered group.

The Hawaiian hoary bat is the only native land mammal of Hawaii. It was first sighted 10,000 years ago. Sea turtles are found on the west coast of Oahu.

There are seven sea turtle species in the world and five out of them are found in Hawaii. But always keep your distance from the sea turtle species in Hawaii not because they are dangerous but because of the laws that are very strict.

You can be fined a fortune if you are seen touching or harassing them. Green sea turtle, hawksbill, leatherback, loggerhead, and olive ridley are the five sea turtle species found in Hawaii.

Hawaiian birds are categorized as forest birds and sea birds. The forest bird names are quite unique.

It includes the yellow green amakini, salmon billed iwi, kolea, and palila. Some of the sea birds are naddies, laysan albatross, brown booby, and Bulwer's petrel.

Other non native animals include Indian mongoose, axis deer, mule deer, feral wallaby, and feral cat. The axis dear was first introduced into Hawaii when it was gifted by Hong Kong to the Hawaiian king, Kamehameha.

Any region is incomplete without the presence of snakes and rats. The main reason for the introduction of the Indian goose was the rat population. The roof black rat and Polynesian rat are the well known ones.

The brahimy blind snake, brown tree snake, and yellow billed sea snake are found in Hawaii. Serious measures are being taken to decrease the snake population as there are no snake predators.

They pose a serious threat hence Hawaii is focusing on becoming snake free. It is illegal to own or import snakes in this region.

What animal is Hawaii known for?

While Hawaii is filled with cool and fascinating animals, it is popularly known for three species. They are the humpback whales, nene geese, and Hawaiian green sea turtle.

The Humpback whale is the official aquatic mammal of Hawaii. Whales of Hawaii dwell in the Kohala coastline.

The probability of getting a glimpse of this whale is high during the winter seasons as these whales migrate during that time. It breeds in the Hawaiian waters. The humpback whale almost went extinct in the ’90s.

Since then due to several protective measures, the population is seeing a rise. The nene goose also known as the Hawaiian goose is the state bird of Hawaii.

500,000 years ago the existence of this goose was identified. Since then the nene goose has been a national identity. It is found in Hawaii, Kauai, and Maui.

This bird was also on the verge of extinction with only 30 of them left. But now after proper care, the number has increased and there are around 3000 nene geese.

The green sea turtle is the most common turtle in Hawaii. It is also a Critically Endangered species and endemic to Hawaii. Due to the wide hunting for their decorative shells, this species is now on the brink of extinction.

The green sea turtle in the ocean can bite humans but very rarely does. They remain calm and are nonaggressive but can get defensive when they sense danger.

Happy cute sea turtle swimming freely in the blue ocean

What is the most dangerous animal in Hawaii?

90% of the wild animals in Hawaii are not dangerous. Only a handful of them is dangerous.

They are with no doubt very attractive but approaching them might not be a good idea. Admiring the beauty of these wild animals from afar is better. Among other deadly animals in Hawaii, the most life threatening animal is the box jelly.

This invertebrate has one of the strongest venoms. It causes deaths in minutes after stinging.

It has 5000 nemocytes (barbed stinging cells). Avoiding them is not easy once you have come in close contact with them as they are active swimmers and swim towards you once they spot you. The venom immediately attacks the central nervous system causing the victim to go in shock and drowning.

It also causes cardiovascular collapse resulting in loss of consciousness and heart attack. Even if the victim manages to survive, which is very unlikely, the scars and pain caused stay for months.

Long spined sea urchins are also some of the dangerous animals in Hawaii. It has spine like structures and is often found in coral reefs and rocks.

It lives in greater depths and hence is only a threat to deep sea divers. Stepping on it is one of the most painful feelings. It is similar to stepping on hundreds of bobby pins.

The venom is not fatal. But once the spines enter the body and break it is impossible to get rid of them, this causes a great deal of pain.

Cone snails are next in line. You are probably wondering what harm a small snail cause to a human. Beware, the venom this sweet looking snail releases is capable of giving you an anaphylactic shock.

Luckily there are several species and not all of them are a threat. However, it is better to keep your distance from all snails as it Is hard to differentiate the dangerous ones and non dangerous ones.

The most venomous ones have chemicals that have the potential to even kill 10 humans. How can a category of dangerous animals not include a snake? The yellow billed sea snake is a rare but deadly snake in Hawaii.

They are generally shy and avoid humans. But sometimes they travel in groups consisting of hundreds of members.

If you get caught in this cluster there is no escaping as the neurotoxin is highly potent. There are four poisonous spider species in Hawaii. They are the brown violin spider, the brown widow, the western black widow, and the southern black widow.

The venom can cause severe pain and side effects in humans. They can be serious if left unattended.

Land Animals In Hawaii

There were several land animals including introduced and native species like the feral cattle, pig, goat, donkey, sheep, axis deer, mule deer, Indian mongoose, rodents, wallaby, Hawaiian goose, and rabbits.

The Indian mongoose species was introduced to reduce the rat population. These creatures did more bad than good, as the Indian mongoose also hunted several native birds. They were around 113 native bird species which has reduced to 71 species.

Wallaby is another land species that was introduced in 1916. It was initially kept as exhibits in the zoo The population saw a quick rise once they started breeding in the wild. They are found on Oahu Island in Kalihi Valley.

Marine Animals In Hawaii

Hawai is known for its marine wildlife. It has the rarest marine life. Some of the marine animals are Hawaiian monk seal, rough toothed dolphins, spotted dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, spinner dolphins, and tiger sharks.

Hawaiian monk seals are the rarest monk seals in the whole world. They are endemic to the Hawaiian island regions. There are around 41 species of sharks in the Hawaiian islands.

Spinner dolphins are found inshore regions of Hawaii. They are the most common type of dolphins. This dolphin present in the Hawaiian islands is one of the four spinner dolphin species in the world.

They are rarely aggressive with humans. The north pacific right whale is one of the species with a very low population of about 30 individuals and is found in Hawaii. Now you know why Hawaii wildlife is so special.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for animals in Hawaii then why not take a look at animals that live in the jungle, or facts about Hawaii pages?

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Martha Martins

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha Martins picture

Martha MartinsBachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha is a full-time creative writer, content strategist, and aspiring screenwriter who communicates complex thoughts and ideas effectively. She has completed her Bachelor's in Linguistics from Nasarawa State University. As an enthusiast of public relations and communication, Martha is well-prepared to substantially impact your organization as your next content writer and strategist. Her dedication to her craft and commitment to delivering high-quality work enables her to create compelling content that resonates with audiences.

Read full bio >