Red apapane in an ohia tree
NPS Photo/J. Wei

Welcome to a world that shelters an array of Hawaiian native species including a host of fascinating birds, carnivorous caterpillars, the largest dragonfly in the United States, crickets partial to new lava flows, endangered sea turtles and just one native terrestrial mammal - a bat. Many organism groups common on continents never succeeded in making the journey to the Hawaiian Islands. Yet for those with the right survival strategy, these remote volcanic islands became a kind of evolutionary frontier for species who exploited new opportunities to find food and homes beginning about 70 million years ago. Most native animal species in the Hawaiian Archipelago are descendents of those that were able to fly here, such as birds, bats and insects; those light enough to be carried by birds, such as snails, some insects and spiders; and those blown here or washed ashore. Their descendents survived and reproduced to eventually inhabit every possible nook and cranny.

A nēnē spreading its wings backlit by the sun

Some of the feathered friends found in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park

A hawksbill turtle hatchling crawling toward the sea
Marine Life

Creatures that live along the watery edge of the Hawaiian Islands

A green happy face spider on a leaf
Insects & Arachnids

Genetic isolation has created an impressive array of insects and spiders

Close up of a bat face as it is being held in a human hand
ʻŌpeʻapeʻa (Hawaiian Hoary Bat)

The only native land mammal in Hawaiʻi, now endangered

A group of goats in grass
Invasive Animals

Hawaiian ecosystems are under threat from invasive animals that upset a delicate balance


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Last updated: November 22, 2020

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 52
Hawaii National Park, HI 96718


808 985-6011

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