5 Incredible Hawaiian Species That Are Almost Gone

Hawai’i is a wonderfully lush island paradise, full of exotic plants and animals. But it also has quite a few species on the endangered species list. This week, 15 more have been added to the list, including two animal species and 13 plant species. All in all, Hawai’i is home to 431 endangered or threatened species, which is much more than any other state. I’m not even going to try to list them all, but here are few of flora and fauna under threat of extinction in the Aloha State.

Blackburns Sphinx Moth

Image credit: State of Hawaii

Biologists thought this Hawaiian moth was extinct in the 1970s, but it was rediscovered in 1984. That’s great news! Unfortunately, its habitat has shrunk. It once lived on six islands, but is now only found on three. Blackburn’s Sphinx Moth is also the first Hawaiian insect to be put on the list, which happened in 2000. Physically, the sphinx moth is an impressive specimen with a 5 inch wingspan. Threats to the insect include loss of habitat, non-native ants and wasps, and loss of its native host plant.


Image credit: Wikipedia

Awww. This bird is so sweet. It’s one of five endangered species of honeycreeper. It lives at relatively high altitudes in the rainforests of Maui, although fossil evidence indicates that the bird was once widespread. The po’ouli is a tough bird to find. In fact, it wasn’t even discovered until 1973. It lives in the rainforest understory at 4,900 feet. When the bird was discovered, biologists thought that there were only 200 individuals. Now, it’s possible there are as few as three individuals left. Threats include non-native bird species, habitat destruction and avian diseases.

Hawaiian Hoary Bat

Image credit: Wikipedia

While the Hoary bat is widespread on the mainland United States, this subspecies is considered to be endangered under the Endangered Species Act. It was once found on five Hawaiian islands, but has been completely eradicated from O’ahu. The Hawaiian hoary bat’s disappearance from O’ahu seems to have been driven by rapid habitat loss.


Image credit: Palm and Cycad Societies of Australia

The endangered species list isn’t reserved for animals. Plants show up, as well, and it doesn’t get much more endangered than the Pritchardia viscosa, commonly know as the lo’ulu. It’s a palm tree with an extremely limited habitat. There are actually 23 species of Pritchardia native to Hawai’i, and all are endangered. For the lo’ulu, however, the situation is especially critical. In 1992, Hurricane Iniki destroyed half of the extant wild population; now there are only four of these trees left. Threats include competition from non-native plant species and animals eating its seeds.

Hawaiian Monk Seal

Image credit: Wikipedia

Finally (and perhaps most adorably), we have the Hawaiian monk seal. It’s from a family of super-rare species; there are less than 600 Mediterranean monk seals in the wild, and the Caribbean monk seal was last seen in the 1950s and is considered extinct. In 2010 it was thought that there were only 1,100 individuals in the wild. In Hawai’i, though, they are appearing to recover. The Hawai’ian monk seal was once all but gone from the state, but in 2004 that population has grown to about 150. As of 2008 there have been 43 recorded pups. There are a mix of natural and human-caused threats to the Hawaiian monk seal, including skewed gender ratios, a low juvenile survival rate, marine debris and hunting throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

There are literally hundreds of other plants and animals on the endangered species list. You can find them here.

Photo Credit: Kyle Nishioka via Flickr


Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Karen McNutt
Karen McNutt5 years ago

It's a sad day when our world and America's gorgeous sate of Hawaii begins to lose insects, plants, and mammals due to over planting grass for golf courses and the chemicals it takes to sustain that perfect green color and lush appearance! There's serious chemical runoff that kills lots of things it's path. It's amazing to me that more people don't care about what is happening in their world TODAY as I write this comment!

Karen McNutt
Karen McNutt5 years ago

I wish I could afford solar panels on my own roof! Shame on anybody trying to keep people from using these panels to lower our carbon contribution to the atmosphere!

Tania S.
Tania S5 years ago

very sad.

Debbie Miller
Debbie Miller5 years ago

breaks the heart, I agree let's keep signing and fighting what causes this!

Valerie Delisle
Valerie Delisle5 years ago

Moths, seals , vegetation, where will it end.. I guess that some will not be happy until this planet is polluted seas and oceans, and barren ground unable to sustain any vegetation beneficial to man or creatures. Let's keep fighting and signing and protecting...

Karen Chestney

Thank-you.......sooooo SAD !!!!! Man is so destructive........thoughtless....and...irresponsible !!!

Jane R.
Jane R5 years ago

Tis is sad indeed. There are just too many people on this planet. They are cutting down forests to build houses and commercial stores and factories. There's not much that can be done as long as the population keeps growing.

Val M.
Val M5 years ago

Very sadly noted

Lynn C.
Past Member 5 years ago