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What Is the State Animal of Hawaii?

The state animal of Hawaii is the majestic Hawaiian monk seal, a symbol of the islands' unique biodiversity. Revered for its serene presence and playful nature, this seal's conservation status reminds us of our duty to protect such treasures. Discover how the Hawaiian monk seal captures the spirit of Aloha and why its survival matters to us all. Ready to learn more?
Misty Amber Brighton
Misty Amber Brighton

The state of Hawaii, United States, is a group of islands located in the Pacific Ocean. It has many official state animals, including a state land mammal, marine mammal, insect, bird, and fish. Respectively, these are the monk seal, humpback whale, Kamehameha butterfly, Hawaiian goose, and rectangular triggerfish.

As a state animal of Hawaii, the monk seal is found only on these islands. It is an endangered species, largely due to over-hunting and the destruction of its natural habitat. This state land mammal is mostly gray, but has white fur on its belly. It can grow anywhere from seven to eight feet (2.1 to 2.4 m) long and weigh between 300 and 600 pounds (140 to 280 kg) when fully mature.

Hawaii's warm climate make it home to many animals recognized as state animals.
Hawaii's warm climate make it home to many animals recognized as state animals.

The state animal of Hawaii in the marine mammal category is the humpback whale. This creature is an extremely large animal, weighing as much as 79,000 pounds (136,000 kg). The whale can also reach anywhere from 39 to 52 feet (12 to 16 m) in length. It has very long fins on the side and tail, a slightly pointed head, and rounded sides.

As the official insect, the Kamehameha butterfly is another state animal of Hawaii found exclusively in this region. This insect typically has multi-colored wings, and some of the more common colors are red, blue, green, and black. It often nests on the Koa tree, which is also native to Hawaii.

The humpback whale is the official state marine mammal of Hawaii.
The humpback whale is the official state marine mammal of Hawaii.

The list of state animals also includes the Hawaiian goose. Like other creatures with the state animal of Hawaii title, this bird is also exclusively found on these islands. It is characterized by large feet and a very long neck, although the bird is about average in height when compared to other species of goose. The feathers of this bird are white or light gray on the chest and head and dark brown or black on the wings and legs.

This state also recognizes an official fish, the rectangular triggerfish. One of the distinct features of this fish is the bold yellow and black stripes along the sides and back of its body. The nose of the fish is typically pointed and white in color. Most specimens reach around a foot (0.31 m) long when fully mature.

Hawaii is a state that has a diverse population of wildlife, and the list of state animals reflects this fact. Visitors to these islands can enjoy viewing a variety of marine and land mammals, insects, and birds that are virtually unknown to the rest of the world. This fact, along with the natural splendor of this region, make Hawaii a magnificent place for natives and tourists alike.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the state animal of Hawaii?

The state animal of Hawaii is the Hawaiian monk seal, scientifically known as Neomonachus schauinslandi. This seal is not only unique to the Hawaiian Islands but also critically endangered. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there are only about 1,400 Hawaiian monk seals left in the wild, making conservation efforts crucial for their survival.

Why was the Hawaiian monk seal chosen as the state animal?

The Hawaiian monk seal was designated as the state animal due to its endemic status, meaning it is native and found only in Hawaii. Its presence in the islands dates back millions of years, and it plays a significant role in the region's marine ecosystem. The seal's critical endangered status also highlights the importance of wildlife conservation in Hawaii.

Where can one typically see the Hawaiian monk seal in the wild?

Hawaiian monk seals are most commonly found in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, which are part of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. However, they can also be spotted on the main Hawaiian Islands' beaches, particularly on the shores of Kauai, Oahu, and Molokai. The NOAA monitors these animals and provides guidelines for safe and respectful wildlife viewing.

What efforts are being made to protect the Hawaiian monk seal?

Conservation efforts for the Hawaiian monk seal are led by organizations like NOAA and the Marine Mammal Center, focusing on habitat protection, scientific research, and community engagement. These efforts include rescue and rehabilitation of injured or sick seals, removal of marine debris from their habitats, and public education campaigns to raise awareness about the seals' plight.

How can individuals contribute to the conservation of the Hawaiian monk seal?

Individuals can contribute to the conservation of the Hawaiian monk seal by supporting organizations that work towards their protection, volunteering in local conservation projects, and participating in beach clean-ups to reduce marine debris. Additionally, when visiting Hawaiian beaches, it's important to respect wildlife by keeping a safe distance from seals and following guidelines set by wildlife authorities to minimize human impact on these animals.

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Discussion Comments


Here's an interesting fact. There are no squirrels on the Hawaiian Islands. I find this notable because I can't think of anywhere I have been where there were no squirrels. Also, there used to be no snakes on the island, but some have stowed away on cargo ships and others have been brought in as pets, so there is a small population now.


@Animandel - You are correct about the mongoose being brought to Hawaii as a means of dealing with the rat population. The unfortunate truth about this move is that the mongoose has done little to decrease the rat population. This is primarily because the mongoose tends to hunt during the day and rats tend to do their damage in the cane fields under the cover of night.

In fact, many Hawaiians see the mongoose as almost as much of a nuisance as the rats they were brought over to control. Since the mongooses can reproduce relatively quickly and they have no natural predator on the island, they are thriving.


There are many beautiful and interesting animals on the islands of Hawaii. The ones mentioned in the article, such as the humpback whale and the birds and fish are integral parts of the state. However, in addition to these animals, I find the local mongoose to be one of the most interesting of Hawaii's animals, and from what I have seen there is no shortage of them on the islands.

An interesting fact about the mongoose is that the animal is not native to the islands, but was introduced to the environment to help control the rat population. Rats can cause a lot of damage to sugar cane and that is a big cash crop on the island. Without a natural predator, the rats pretty much had a free run about the island.

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    • Hawaii's warm climate make it home to many animals recognized as state animals.
      By: Katrina Brown
      Hawaii's warm climate make it home to many animals recognized as state animals.
    • The humpback whale is the official state marine mammal of Hawaii.
      By: s1000rr
      The humpback whale is the official state marine mammal of Hawaii.