HAWAI‘I’S Marine Life

Explore Beneath the Surface
Interesting Fact
Whales sing a new song every year!
Whales sing a new song every year!
Male humpback whales sing a complex song with identifiable phrases. The composition changes slightly over the course of the breeding season. By the next year, it’s a whole new tune!
Interesting Fact
Turtle
Master Navigators
Most of Hawai‘i’s green sea turtles migrate to the Northwest Hawaiian Islands to nest. They rely on starlight and the earth’s magnetic fields to find their way thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean.
Interesting Fact
Underwater Barbershop
Underwater Barbershop
Hawaiian cleaner wrasses are the barbers of the sea. They tidy up other fish, removing parasites, mucus, and old skin from their fins and gills. A cleaner wrasse will even climb into an eel’s mouth for a bit of free dentistry!
Interesting Fact
Hawaiian Monk Seal
Sea Dogs
The Hawaiian monk seal is one of the world’s rarest marine mammals. Endemic to the Hawaiian archipelago, less than 1,500 of these sweet-faced seals exist. The Hawaiian name ‘ilioholoikauaua means the “dog that runs in rough seas.”
Explore Hawai‘i’s Marine Life!
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Fishes
Devil Scorpionfish
The devil scorpionfish presents venomous spines down their backs and colorful pectoral fins to warn others of danger. Their yellow and orange arched stripes and black spo...
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Devil Scorpionfish
Fishes
Hawaiian Spotted Eagle Ray, Bonnet Ray, Duck Bill Ray
The Hawaiian spotted eagle ray is also known as the bonnet ray, duck bill ray, or spotted duck billed ray, but perhaps no other name than hihimanu describes them so perfe...
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Hawaiian Spotted Eagle Ray, Bonnet Ray, Duck Bill Ray
Fishes
Conger and Garden Eels
Conger eels have a nearly cylindrical body (which becomes compressed posteriorly), very well-developed pectoral fins, and a fairly large gill opening on the lower half of...
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Conger and Garden Eels
Fishes
Giant Trevally
The jacks, or trevally, are a family of strong-swimming predators frequently seen at drop-offs or near reefs. Usually silvery in color, most have streamlined bodies with ...
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Giant Trevally
Fishes
Gray Reef Shark
The gray reef shark is commonly found in coastal regions in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, near reefs neighboring oceanic waters. In Hawai‘i, the gray reef shark is mos...
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Gray Reef Shark
Fishes
Scalloped Hammerhead Shark
Found both in coastal and pelagic regions in all oceans of the world, the hammerhead shark is by far one of the most unique and distinct sharks in our oceans today. The s...
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Scalloped Hammerhead Shark
Fishes
Moray Eel
Seeing a moray eel while snorkeling or diving can be an exhilarating experience. With rows of sharp, dangerous teeth and a snake-like body with an elusive lifestyle, the ...
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Moray Eel
Fishes
Sandbar Shark
Found in all oceans of the world, sandbar sharks are most common in deep coastal waters. This species has been documented in intertidal areas down to about 900 feet in de...
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Sandbar Shark
Fishes
Tiger Shark
Tiger sharks are common in coastal waters worldwide in tropical and temperate waters. They have a distinct, broadly rounded snout and serrated teeth. Juveniles have visib...
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Tiger Shark
Fishes
Common Longnose Butterflyfish
The common longnose butterflyfish (Forcipiger flavissimus) is one of two longnose butterflyfish species found in Hawaiʻi. Commonly known as forcepfish, this species is b...
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Common Longnose Butterflyfish
Invertebrates
Spiny Lobster
The Hawaiian Islands lack true lobsters with distinguishing enlarged pincers on the first pair of legs. Instead, spiny lobsters reside here in our island waters. They are...
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Spiny Lobster
Invertebrates
Sea Urchin
Frequently observed by snorkelers and divers, sea urchins are abundant in the Hawaiian Islands. These echinoderms are closely related to sea stars and sea cucumbers and u...
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Sea Urchin