HAWAIIAN PLANTS AND ANIMALS
Hawaii is the world's most isolated group of islands. North America is more than 4,000 kilometers,
or 2,500 miles, away. Extreme isolation made it difficult for plants and animals to colonize the islands because the
chances of seed or animals reaching the remote island chain were difficult by land or by water. An invertebrate colonized Hawaii once every 70,000 years, a plant
once every 100,000 years, and a bird once every million years. Endemic species arrived primarily via water.
Non-native species were introduced by American and European settlers. Some of these combined with the native
species to produce new varieties, while others competed for an ecological niche, eliminating some of their competitors.
Take some time to observe the flowers, plants, and life in the tidepools, as well as in the water
and be sure to have a camera.
Hibiscus, gardenias, anthuriums, and bird of paradise are among the most well-known
Hawaiian varieties of flowers. The most famous Hawai`ian tree varieties are kiawe, hau, pandanus, kukui, pandanus and koa.
One of the best ways to see all of the gorgeous flowers and trees this island offers is to visit the
Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden near Hilo and Onomea Bay, where there are more than 2,000 species of palm trees,
heliconias, gingers, bromeliads, and hundreds of other rare and exotic plants.
Hawaii is home to some beautiful birds, including the state bird, the nene, found on islands of Maui, Kauai and Hawaii.
Birds can be seen looking for food at tide pools, and they frequently blend in beautifully with their surroundings. You'll enjoy
watching several colorful birds right from the lanai of our condo!
Only two butterfly species in Hawaii are native. One is the spectacular Kamehameha butterfly,
with its beautiful orange wings and white spots. There are several other accidentally and
intentionally introduced species that are blue, gold, white, and striped.
One of its best known inhabitants is the green sea turtle, or honu, which is protected by law, and can be seen basking in the sun
on warm beaches around the island. They swim through the water with ease, and can often be spotted floating on the tops of small waves.
Whales and Dolphins
The Kona coast is a great place to spot pods of spinner dolphins. And during the winter months when humpback whales migrate to the warm tropical waters
to give birth it is common to see these giants from the shore as they rest in the shallow waters. Or try a whale watching tour for a half day of fun.
Fish, Sharks, and Rays
And of course there are beautiful fish, corals, and a vast variety of other sea life,
from tiny clams and starfish hiding under rocks to larger spiny purple urchins and colorful fish to 10 foot manta rays. The Hawaiian state fish
is the humuhumunukunukupua'a, otherwise known as the reef triggerfish.
Its Hawaiian name translates as "patchwork fish with a snout like a pig." Locals refer to it simply as "humuhumu."
This colorful fish adorns t-shirts, jewelry, and pareaus, and just about everything else Hawaiian.
Look for it while snorkeling or diving.
One of the most amazing creatures is the gentle manta ray, a favorite of divers. These graceful creatures congregate in divers' lights and feed on microscopic
krill in the evenings after dark, sometimes as individuals, sometimes in small family groups.
Frequent divers can identify them by the spots on their undersides.