9 Interesting Animals In Maui You May Not Know

Maui is already known as a place of luxury, relaxation, and discovery. But it is also home to some of the world but incredible wildlife.

9 Interesting Animals In Maui You May Not Know

The islands are home to ecosystems, species of animals, and plants that are not found anywhere else in the globe.

And when it comes to the uniqueness of its endemic wildlife, Maui is comparable to other places. 

In this article, you will find 9 interesting animals in Maui that you may not know about.

From the Hawaiian Monk Seal to the ‘I’iwi Scarlet Honeycreeper there are plenty of animals for you to learn about. 

So, whether you are visiting the land of Maui or just want to know more about the wildlife you can find it all below!

1. Kamehameha Butterflies 

This gorgeous black and orange butterfly is the state insect of Hawaii. It is more commonly known as pulelehua which translates to butterfly in Hawaiian.

The speckled appearance of these butterflies, which resembles a painted lady butterfly that may be found elsewhere, makes them easy to identify. 

The Udara Blackburni, often known as the Blackburn’s blue butterfly, is another indigenous butterfly to the island. It has a distinctive pale green color.

No one can negate the beauty of this butterfly and it is always a treat when you can spot one in real life.

Another fun fact about this butterfly is that it is one of two butterflies that are native to Maui and the surrounding islands. 

You will most naturally be able to spot them when hiking in the forests across the island of Maui or when relaxing at your hotel with a calm breeze in the air. 

2. Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin 

The Pacific Islands Region’s nearshore seas are home to the most commonly observed cetacean, most likely spinner dolphins.

Because they frequently leap and spin out of the water, spinner dolphins got their popular name.

The term “long beak,” which refers to the species’ long, slender beak or rostrum, is derived from Latin.

Spinner Dolphins have a high protein diet of smaller fish such as squid and shrimp.

They are known for feeding throughout the night when their prey is forced to shallow waters. 

When on vacation in Maui you can expect to see a spectacular show at the beach provided by the Spinner Dolphin.

Or increase your chances of a sighting by taking a boat tour of the islands and spending time on the water. 

3. Pueo Owls 

The Pueo Owl or the Hawaiian Short-Eared Owl is one of the only owls that build their nests on the ground rather than in trees and hunt during the day rather than at night.

This is a rather controversial behavior for owls. 

They are believed to have colonized the island when the Polynesians arrived.

However, they have now been considered an endangered species that require a lot more attention.

More study and support are required for this silent hunter in order to help save their species. 

You can see a Pueo Owl in the Honolulu Zoo. There you will meet Makamai who arrived with a damaged eye and little chance of surviving in the wild. 

4. Sea Turtles 

The magnificent Sea Turtle is one of the most incredible reptiles to grace our waters. And you can spot them just off the shore of Maui.

Many visitors flock to Maui with the sole intention of seeing a Sea Turtle in real life. 

The waters of Maui are home to various species of Sea Turtles with the most common being Green Turtles.

There are also rarer turtles such as Leatherbacks and Loggerheads to be spotted but these sightings are few and far between. 

Although sea turtles lack teeth, their jaws have specialized “beaks” that are adapted to their unique diet.

They have skin-covered eardrums but no discernible ears. Their sense of smell is some of the best in the ocean and underwater, their sight is more than average. 

Once a baby turtle hatches, it is largely unknown as to what they do or where they go.

It is theorized that they spend most of their younger years floating in a giant bed of sargassum weeds for protection while they grow.

However, once they are large enough they between feeding at nearshore waters. 

5. Blacktip Reef Shark 

Much like the Oceanic Whitetip Shark, the Blacktip Reef Shark is recognized due to the black tips adorning its fins.

It is a species of requiem shark and can be found in shallow, inshore waters where it can hunt small fish. 

The male follows the female closely before mating, probably drawn by her hormonal cues.

Compared to adults, newborn sharks are found closer to shore and in shallower water.

They usually congregate in huge groups over areas that are submerged during high tide.

It is considered a highly skittish shark making it dangerous and difficult to approach.

So, be sure to check for any shark sightings before heading out on that long-awaited surf.

While it is not a predator to humans, it can still mistake your legs or arms for food and go in for a taste. 

6. Mongoose 

Sometimes you can spot these little weasel-like creatures dashing across fields or roadways.

The 1800s saw the deliberate introduction of mongoose to the islands in a now infamously misguided and ignorant effort to biologically manage the rats in the sugar cane plantations.

This was a failed attempt as the animals rarely crossed paths due to their natural wakening hours.

Now, the two species live side by side at opposite times of the day. 

Small mammals, birds, reptiles, eggs, and even fruit are all consumed by mongooses.

Many mongooses may fight and kill venomous snakes for food, notably those of the genus Herpestes.

They rely on quickness and dexterity, darting at the snake’s head and snapping its skull with a vicious bite.

Mongooses are sometimes bitten, but they have a glycoprotein that binds to the proteins in snake venom, rendering them inactive and harmless.

Quite an incredible feature when dealing with such harmful enemies. 

7. Hawaiian Monk Seal 

The Hawaiian Monk Seal is a true treasure and is a wonderful sight to see when walking along the beaches of Maui.

It is one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world with only around 1,400 in the wild. 

The majority of Hawaiians reside in the far-flung northernmost islands, but roughly 300 also dwell in the general area of the main Hawaiian islands, with about 10 to 15 of them frequently visiting Maui. 

They often come ashore for some rest and sunbathing which may make them appear dead.

This gives visitors the inclination to approach the seal but it is important to leave it alone if you spot one.

They may look cute and cuddly but they are known for having a vicious and unforgiving bite. 

Be even more cautious and avoid getting between them if the sighting is a female monk seal with a pup, which is quite uncommon.

8. Nene Goose 

The Nene Goose pronounced Nay-Nay is native to Hawaii and is even the official state bird.

They are believed to be descended from the Canada Goose with their height and graceful presence. 

Since they are lifelong partners, you will most frequently see them in couples. The nene was on the verge of extinction.

In actuality, there were only 30 nene geese in Hawaii by 1951, and they were extinct on the island of Maui by the late 1800s. 

The island of Maui has worked tirelessly to protect and preserve the Nene species.

Today there are more than 2,800 Nene Goose in the state of Hawaii with 500 of those thriving in Maui.

You will most likely spot them in the Haleakala National Park as you explore the grounds. 

9. Gecko 

The adorable Gecko is a thriving species of reptile in Maui.

They are welcomed into homes and public places to deal with rampant insects such as ants, cockroaches, and termites. Allowing you to live bug-free. 

They are also one of the only species where a female can fertilize her own eggs without the need for a male. 

Geckos typically only grow to around 4 inches long and have the incredible ability to detach their tails in times of distress.

You will often see tailless Geckos running around after battling with cats and other predators. 

This precious reptile is harmless to humans and is embraced by the people of Maui. 

Final Thoughts 

There is no shortage of wildlife in Maui. From land to the depths of the ocean, there are thousands of species to be discovered.

Some are more than happy to interact with humans while others should be left well and truly alone. 

Above are 9 interesting animals in Maui that will bring color and life to your vacation.

Whether you go diving with the historic Sea Turtle or find a Gecko in your bathroom, you are sure to spot something on your trip. 

Maui is working hard to conserve and grow its wildlife population so always be respectful of the animals you discover!

Olivia Kepner