Welcome to Dream Vacations, a lifestyle column on travelling to amazing destinations with practical advice and my revelations about locales from years of personal experience. One of my favourite aspects of traveling is being able to bear witness to some of the beautiful and majestic local wildlife.
When you visit Hawaii, there are over 10,000 endemic species (not found anywhere else in the world) which have evolved in a vacuum just like the Galapagos. In fact, Hawaii has by far more endemic species than the Galapagos. Here are my choices for the five most unique native species of Hawaii.
Hawaiian Monk Seal
Probably the most famous endemic animal is the Hawaiian Monk Seal, which is also only one of two endemic species in Hawaii. That means every other mammal (except the Hoary Bat) was brought to Hawaii by humans! Unfortunately, it is also the most endangered mammal in the U.S. with the last seal census counting only 1,400 seals in existence and they are in decline. There are only two current species of tropical seals, as most seals live in cold-water areas.
The Happy Face Spider
Thanks to my friends, Dennis & Stuart, who found this spider and to Dennis for loaning me his extension tubes & lighting. (This is a very small spider.) The species is endemic to four of the larger Hawaiian Islands. Its Hawaiian name is “nananana makaki?i” (face-patterned spider).–Wikipedia Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii (the big island), Hawaii[/caption]
Not all creature hunting has to include large and furry mammals. If you have little ones, they will adore insect hunting. The Hawaiian Happy Face Spider is just one of over 5,000 endemic insects in the Hawaiian islands. They will love the smiley face looking back at them.
Hawaiian Hoary Bat
Up for adventure? Being able to witness this creature in its natural habitat may be a challenge. Another endangered species, it only has breeding populations on Hawaii and Kauai, but has been sighted on all other main islands except Oahu. It was recently discovered that this bat actually migrated from the US pacific coast, a trip of over 2,200 miles, in two waves at 10,000 and 800 years ago.
The Nene Goose
The state’s official bird is the Hawaiian Nene Goose (pronounced nay nay), another endemic species to the Hawaii. Since, Hawaii is very remote, it has almost 25% of all endangered species in the U.S., and this goose is considered one as well. In the 1950’s it was almost entirely lost, declining to only 30 total birds in existence but has since grown to over 2,000 with strong conservation efforts.[/caption]
The last species on this journey includes only one of two endemic butterflies in Hawaii, the Koa butterfly. This small one-inch butterfly may seem boring, as its wings are typically closed when it has landed, covering its beautiful blue-wing backside. The iridescent scales reflect the light and produce a unique shimmery light play. Best found near Acacia Koa trees.
Although these are my favourite unique Hawaiian wildlife specimens, what are yours? I would love to hear from you about your wildlife encounters (send pics if you have them)!
Hawaii is one of our most requested destinations and for a good reason. If you are searching for the perfect Hawaiian getaway, be sure to call and ask for some advice where you should stay.
Tags: Hawaii, endangered species, Hawaii wildlife, family vacation