• The Sacred Hale o Keawe Heiau Protects the Pu'uhonua

    Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau

    National Historical Park Hawai'i

Mammals

Hawaiian hoary bat

‘Ope‘ape‘ (Hawaiian hoary bat) is the only native land mammal of Hawai'i. ‘Ope‘ape‘have been reported on all main islands with the largest population residing on Hawai'i.

Kimberly Krusell-NPS Photo

'Ope'ape'a (Hawaiian Hoary Bat)
Just after sunset is the most common time to observe the 'Ope'ape'a. The endangered 'Ope'ape'a is the only land mammal native to Hawai'i. It appears to be a solitary bat that roosts in trees and feeds on insects. The name 'hoary' means ghost-like, and thus named due to the frosted tips of the Ope'ape'a fur. Much is unknown about this species but current monitoring in the park by USGS will hopefully provide information about diet, habitats and behavior.

'Ilio holo I ka (Hawaiian Monk Seal)
'Ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua (Monachus schauinslandi), is an endangered marine mammal that is endemic to the warm, clear waters of the Hawaiian Islands. Scientist estimate about 1,000 to 1,200 monk seals live in this archipelagoe today. The species has declined at approximately 4% per year since 1989 and is the most endangered U.S. marine mammal. It is uncommon to spot a monk seal near the shores of Pu'uhonua o Hōnaunau NHP. Any sighting should be reported to a park ranger.

Aquatic Mammals
Beyond the land that marks the borders of the park extends the expansive Pacific Ocean. There within, visible from the park generally in November through March, are the na kohola (Humpback whales) who have journeyed from the cooler North Pacific waters to breed and give birth. Humpback whales are easy to see in Hawaiian waters because they exhibit many dramatic behaviors, especially the hurling of their gargantuan bodies into the air in spectacular breaches.

Although the na kohola are the most commonly observed ocean mammals, other species may also be seen in the Hawaiian waters. From the shores, watch for a visible, uprising vapor just above the water, that is created when a whale surfaces for air and exhales through its blow hole.

Nai'a is the Hawaiian name for dolphin. The aerial acrobats of the Spinner dolphins are commonly seen across the bay from the Pu'uhonua shores. They leap out of the water and spin laterally through the air before the body and tail once again disappears into the ocean.

Terrestrial Mammals
All other mammals that occur in the park, were either purposefully brought to Hawai'i, either for profit, to solve a problem or were accidental stowaways on ocean vessels visiting the island from faraway places. These species are not native to Hawai'i and have permanently changed the landscape.

The mongoose was introduce from India to help reduce the rat population, which was a particular nuisance to the sugarcane industry. Unfortunately, the mongoose has become the textbook example of a failed biocontrol effort. The rat is nocturnal and the mongoose is diurnal and seldomly meet. Although the mongoose did little to change the rat population it is a major contributor to the decline of native ground nesting birds.

 
Monk Seal Keoneele Cove

This `Ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua was resting on Keone'ele Cove.

Mammal Species Observed in the Park

NATIVE MAMMALS
'Ope'ape'a Hawaiian Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus semotus)
`Ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua Hawaiian Monk Seal (Monachus schauinslandi)

NON-NATIVE MAMMALS
Domestic (feral) dog (Canis familiaris)
Domestic (feral) goat(Capris hircus)
Domestic (feral) cat (Felis silvestris)
Indian Mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus)
House mouse (Mus musculus)
Polynesian Rat (Rattus exulans)
Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus)
Black Rat (Rattus rattus)
Wild boar (Sus scrofa)

Did You Know?

noni tree

Did you know that the noni tree was brought to Hawai'i by the early Polynesian settlers and was used as a medicinal tonic to treat digestive problems. Today, noni juice can be purchased in many health food stores throughout the country.