Hawaii Tops the List of States with Endangered Species!

Apr 29, 2021 | General Information

Well, it’s not necessarily the most sought-after or desirable list to find yourself on, but Hawaii finds itself at the very top of the list of states in the union with the most endangered species. Actually the land surface of the Hawaiian Islands accounts for less than .2% of the total land area within the United States but yet it accounts for over 25% of the total endangered species found anywhere in the country. The list has topped out recently at 437 known species which includes mammals, birds, reptiles, snails, insects and plants.

Although it may seem odd a first that we have so many species on the endangered list in Hawaii, in reality it is not all that hard to understand at all. These islands make up the most remote archipelago or grouping of major islands anywhere on the planet. For all practical purposes we are separated by 2000 miles in every direction from any other major land mass. As a result the life forms that have somehow found themselves here have in most cases been able to live here in a pristine and nurturing environment without the fear of being ‘taken out’ by a vast array of predators. Fully 75% of the flora and fauna that exist currently in the islands did not exist ‘pre-contact’ with humans who arrived here in about the 4th century AD. These islands were un-crowded in those days and new life forms could easily be absorbed into the ecosystems. The fact that the islands themselves are composed of so many varieties of climatic zones often changing within less than a mile as a ‘crow flies’ from one zone to another, has allowed these species to evolve in a unique microclimate where they have adapted generation through generation into the unique species they have become. There are many examples of a particular Hawaiian species living exclusively in one valley but not found in neighboring valleys that have distinctly different climatic and topographical conditions. It can be easily understood then that the encroachment of human civilization within a certain valley or area may have a huge impact upon the species that exist there, and more often than not, pushing them to the brink of extinction.

High on the list of endangered and threatened species found in Hawaii are the Hawaiian Monk Seal, the Humpback Whale, the Hawaiian Hoary Bat, the Nene and the Hawaiian Hawk. By far, the list of endangered species is the highest in the plant kingdom in Hawaii.