5 Endangered Animals in Hawaii
Hawaii is a closely protected ecosystem that is home to many endangered animal species. This fragile ecosystem requires rigorous checks and searches for those who plan on visiting these tropical islands. Most species in Hawaii are forced to face predation, pollution, and an increased amount of stress from urban development and expansion.
The Hawaiian Islands are a haven for several endangered species of animals. Tourists will be surprised to learn just how many animals depend on the delicate balance of the Hawaiian ecosystem. Read on to see the list of endangered species one might be lucky enough to see while visiting Hawaii and what made them endangered in the first place.
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Hawaiian Monk Seal
There are fewer than 2,000 Hawaiian Monk Seals today in the wild. The species is down to a third of their traditional population. This species of seal has experienced habitat destruction due to urban development on the islands. Urban development has directly affected the health of the seal by forcing them from their homes.
There are more endangered species in Hawaii than most other places in the world. This is largely in part to the rapid development of the Islands’ infrastructure which has destroyed a large amount of seal habitat. With less space to live, Monk Seals have literally been forced off the island in the name of urban progress.
The waters around Hawaii are often considered the most beautiful in the world. While this is true of Hawaiian waters that are free of refuse, the surrounding ocean can be fraught with plastic, and trash. Monk Seals can mistake this plastic and refuse as food and grow seriously ill. This can even lead to a slow, and painful death for the seals.
Almost everyone goes to Hawaii for the beach, the sun, and the water. Marine recreation is incredibly popular around the Hawaiian Islands and this affects the monk seal population’s hunting grounds in a negative way. The human presence impacts a local ecosystem in a negative way. Hawaiian monk seals are being pushed off the land.
Sadly, the state bird of Hawaii finds its way onto this list of endangered species. The nene is a medium-sized goose that is capable of flight. This Hawaiian goose can only be found on the Hawaiian islands. They spend most of their time on land but have been known to fly between nesting and feeding areas. These birds are dwindling in numbers.
In the mid-sixties, the number of wild nenes was only thirty. This was largely in part to the over-hunting they experienced from humans. Without proper management, the population could not recover from being over-harvested. It has been a process but, today there are around 3,000 nenes in the wild. More needs to be done still.
After the nenes were placed on an endangered species list, it became illegal to hunt them. This put a stop to human predation, but it did nothing in the way of curbing predation from non-native species. Feral cats have been a plague to the wild nene population. These predators are not a joke and should be taken very seriously.
Again, urban development is another factor that has contributed to the decline of the wild nene population. When cities grow and new suburbs are developed, more and more nene habitat is going to be destroyed. The struggling population of wild nenes are being forced to find eating and nesting areas elsewhere as cities grow and develop.
Green Sea Turtle
These beloved giant turtles often call the tropical islands and waters of Hawaii home. They are one of the largest species of turtles to exist, and they are endangered. Their numbers have been on a modest rise lately which is terrific news. These giant turtles are a key part of the Hawaiin ecosystem and losing the green turtle would be a disaster.
Many of the methods that commercial fishermen employ are not selective in nature. Nets are especially bad at producing a large amount of by-catch. Green sea turtles can easily get caught in these nets and drawn or hurt themselves very badly on the gear itself. A trapped turtle on abandoned nets could be an easy meal for predators as well.
Green sea turtles are voracious eaters of jellyfish. A plastic shopping bag looks identical to a jellyfish when it is floating in the current. A hungry sea turtle would not think twice to munch down the bag and they often do which results in their painful and drawn-out death. This is a terrible fate that many green sea turtles find themselves bound to.
Again, for the third time, urban development is seriously hindering the stability of animal populations across Hawaii. The green sea turtle is no exception. Sea turtles nest on the beach and require these areas for reproduction. By limiting their access to acceptable beach areas, the green sea turtles are being set up to fail. They need their own space.
Hawaiian Hoary Bat
The Hawaiian Hoary bat is the only native terrestrial mammal that is native to the islands of Hawaii. Because of this interesting piece of trivia, the state of Hawaii officially declared the Hawaiian Hoary bat to be its state mammal. Despite this high level of adoration, the Hawaiian Hoary bat still finds itself on the endangered species list.
Key factors that have contributed to the decline of the Hawaiian Hoary bat are not exactly known. This stems from the fact that little is known about the Hawaiian Hoary bat’s distribution and habitat needs. Until biologists can discover this info from the Hawaiian Hoary bats, it will be a matter of trial and error to rebuild the population.
All that is known is that the Hawaiian Hoary bat’s population has definitely been reduced in recent years. Because of all of the uncertainty, and the sharp decline in population, this animal has found itself on the endangered species list. More research is needed to determine what exactly can be done to grow the population of this special little mammal.
One could speculate that the increase in the human population on the islands has had a negative effect on the native bat population. As cities grow and more land is required for the needs of humans, less is available for the Hawaiian Hoary bats to occupy. Surely, this has had a negative impact on the only native mammal species in Hawaii.
Oahu Tree Snail
This small creature has come under threat in recent years. They are preyed on by rats, mongooses, and chameleons without relent. The fact that the urban areas are growing and taking more of the snails’ ecosystem away does not help either. These little creatures are a very important producer in the food web of the Hawaiian Islands.
When habitat is lost, producers and consumers in an ecosystem’s food web will have to compete for the limited area. This has created a less than ideal situation for the Oahu Tree snail which has led to their decline in recent years. When these important members of the food web are no longer around, their consumers will be next.
Every creature plays an important part in the health of their ecosystem. When one link is lost, it puts the entire system in jeopardy. The health of the terrestrial ecosystem of the Hawaiian Islands could be dramatically altered with the loss of the humble Oahu Tree Snail.
Hawaii is home to a plethora of species that are considered endangered. These five species are forced to face predation, pollution, and stresses from an increase in urban development. These species need continued support to become stable once again.