The Hawaiian Island Chain is the most remote place on the planet and it wasn’t easy for life to come here. Nevertheless, when it did - it found perfect conditions and quickly adapted to the environment. Moss, lichen, and algae were the first colonizers of the bare volcanic islands. Migratory birds were the next visitors and many of them left behind their droppings. In those droppings were the seeds and spores that eventually evolved into the unique flora of Hawai’i. On average one new species arrived every 100,000 years!
The species that were lucky enough to get here evolved to fill the ecological niches of the islands. One example is the Hawaiian Honeycreeper which evolved from one species into fifty-four unique species of birds! When you compare this to the fourteen species of finches in the Galapagos which led Charles Darwin to formulate the theory of evolution - you can see just how special these islands are.
The only mammals which came to the islands before humans were the Hawaiian Hoary Bat (it probably floated on logs and then flew) and the Hawaiian Monk Seals and Porpoises which definitely swam here. Hawaii has no native ants, honeybees, snakes, lizards, frogs, parrots or even coconut trees! All of those were brought later by humans.
The delicate Hawaiian ecology of the island existed and found balance for over 70-million-years and produced a dazzling array of birds, insects, plants, flowers, and fungii. There were no predators for birds. In addition, insect and plant species did not need to compete, defend, or spread voraciously. Unfortunately, the arrival of humans more than a thousand years ago introduced many aggressive invasive species and this, sadly, has led to Hawaii being the extinction capital of the world. Despite this fact, it is never too late to start protecting the natural wonders of our beautiful planet. So get started now!! For more information about what you can do to help preserve natural world, please visit www.hokulea.com/worldwide-voyage/.
And while you are in Hawai'i, enjoy the beauty and diversity but also please be aware of it's delicate nature and malama aina ("Respect the land" in the Hawaiian Language) malama kai ("Respect the ocean" in the Hawaiian Language).