5 Marine Animals You Can Find in Hawaii
Hawaii is known for its biodiversity and tropical ecosystems, so it is no surprise that some of the most magical of aquatic creatures can be spotted right off our island shores. They enjoy the impeccable natural habitat just as much as we do.
Green Sea Turtles especially are found laying out around the beaches of Maui or cruising the tides close to shore in Oahu. However the inappropriate nomenclature, Green Sea turtles are not always green and their shells are more often brown, olive, yellow or black. They acquired their name because their body fat turns green with their diet, consisting mostly of plant life. While this species takes about 25-50 years to reach sexual maturity, scientists believe they can live to be over 80 years old. Sadly, they are on the Endangered Species list as threatened, meaning that touching, hurting, riding, feeding, or killing turtles is illegal both state and federally. Unless you want a $25,000 ticket with your name on it, we recommend admiring these gentle creatures from a distance.
Just to clarify- No, my cat did NOT just walk across the keyboard. Humuhumunukunukuapua’a is the Hawaiian state fish. This tropical reef trigger fish is common throughout the snorkel hot spots of Oahu. While they are easily identifiable with a bright “Y” on their side and fluorescent blue lips, do not get to close. This species is known to be territorial and very protective of its space. These fish are considered by some to be a keystone species because they chow down on the parts of the coral reef they can digest and spit out the excess. They are “sand makers”.
One of the only two native mammals to make it to the island without human influence. The adorable seal species is listed as endangered with a dwindling 1,200 individuals left in the wild. The majority of their lives are spent in the ocean and around their native beach searching for octopus, fish, and spiny lobster, but monk seals do find their way to shore to rest. Females are slightly larger than males, weighing around 500 lbs (225 kg), and are known to live between 25-30 years. Some factors influencing the monk seal population are fisheries, pollution, uneven sex ratio, and loss of habitat.
‘Tis the season! Humpbacks spend the winters off the coasts of Hawaii taking a break from the chilling arctic cold. They spend a few months birthing their calves and mating, then continue on their journey back to the icy Alaskan waters. This time of year (between November and April) we are treated to a spectacle of acrobatic humpbacks that breach, slap the water, and stroke one another- communicating in ways scientists are just beginning to understand. Humpbacks are among the most endangered whales and the current global population is estimated to be 35,000.
All marine mammals are protected under the United States Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and spinner dolphins are no exception. They are, according to NOAA, the most frequently encountered cetacean in waters of the Pacific Island Region. Appropriately named because of the counter clockwise spin they perform during social interactions. They hunt in groups at night and can often be seen resting or socializing in sand-bottom bays. Similar to humpback whales this species is susceptible to marine debris entanglement, human harassment, disease, and threats of over fishing.
Would you like a chance to see some of these amazing animals for yourself? Feel free to click on our Tour link above for scheduling and more information.