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Hawaiʻi is, unfortunately, the “endangered species capital of the world.”  Statewide, The Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office lists more than 400 threatened and endangered species in the State of Hawaiʻi. Introduction of alien species and diseases has had a devastating effect on native plants and animals. A few that you may encounter while on the island of Hawaiʻi, that are protected by the Federal Endangered Species Act, include:

Hawaiian Monk Seal (ʻīlioholoikauaua).

The Hawaiian monk seal is one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world, and the rarest seal or sea lion in U.S. waters. Remain at least 50 yards from monk seals. The Ke Kai Ola facility in Kona has rescued and rehabilitated several monk seals.

ESA*, MMPA**, +S

Turtles - Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles (honu), Hawksbill (ʻea)

All sea turtles in Hawaiʻi are protected. Do not harass, harm, kill, or keep sea turtles in captivity without a permit or sell any sea turtle parts or products. Keep a respectful distance of at least 10 feet (3 meters) away. Feeding or touching turtles, or attempting to ride them, could cause distress. Honu are featured in mythology, etched into lava rock beds (petroglyph), and are ʻaumākua (personal family gods/guardians).

*ESA, +S

Spinner Dolphins (naiʻa)

 Do not pursue, torment, or annoy. While observing spinner dolphins in the wild, stay at least 50 yards away.


Humpback Whale (koholā)

Remain at least 100 yards from humpback whales.


Hawaiian Goose (nēnē)

Hawaiʻi’s State Bird.  First protected in 1967 and its population has successfully grown! After more than five decades, the species is no longer in immediate danger of extinction. The nēnē still faces threats and needs ongoing protection, but the immediate risk of extinction appears to have been reduced.

*ESA, +S

Hawaiian Hoary Bat (ʻōpeʻapeʻa)

The only native terrestrial mammal in the Hawaiian Islands, although fossil evidence suggests at least one other bat species was native to the islands. ʻŌpeʻapeʻa feeds on a variety of native and non-native night-flying insects.

*ESA, +S

*ESA = Endangered Species Act (ESA)
**MMPA = Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA)
+S = and State Law

Please keep your distance from these precious creatures. Fines will apply.

To report stranded /entangled marine mammals: 1-888-256-9840. Pursuit and feeding of marine mammals are prohibited by Federal Law. Do not attempt to touch, ride, or feed turtles or marine mammals. Limit your time observing an animal to ½ hour. Do not encircle or trap between boats or shore. If approached by a marine mammal while you are on a boat, put the engine in neutral and allow the animal to pass.

NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Hotline: 1-800-853-1964 (24 hours/day, 7 days/week)

DOCARE (Dept. of Conservation and Resource Enforcement): 808-974-6208 (Hilo), 808-323-3141 (Kona), 808-887-6196 (Waimea)

Report injured native birds to: Hawaiʻi Wildlife Center (808) 884-5000 or (send a photo to help ID)

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