As an island nation the number of native plants and animals in the
Marshall Islands are severely limited. The native land life is almost non-existent
and the native plant life was very limited; only the migrating birds and sea life
had any significant presence in the historic Marshall Islands. Most of what is found
on the islands today was introduced in pre-historic times by the migrating people,
birds, winds, and ocean currents.
As an island nation that rose from the sea floor there were no native mammals in
the Marshall Islands, although a few bat species
arrived thousands of years ago. Other than this, no land mammals existed on the
Marshall Islands until the arrival of the earliest people, who likely came from
the region of New Guinea and brought with them pigs, dogs, mice, and rats, including
the Pacific Rat.
The other historic mammals connected with the Marshall
Islands are in the sea as dolphins and whales are present in the waters
surrounding the islands. These waters are also filled with thousands of fish, shellfish,
and other forms of sea life. In these waters you can find surgeonfish, clownfish,
sailfish, puffer fish, butterfly fish, grouper, barracuda, tuna, mackerel, marlin,
mahi-mahi, shrimp, krill, crab, seahorses, manta rays, sharks, jellyfish, starfish,
and sea urchins among many others.
The water and the land have attracted more than just fish though, they have also
attracted numerous birds, including many that feed off the animals in the sea. The
bird life in the Marshall Islands includes doves, owls, passerines, scrub fowls,
and heron among others.
Like the mammalian life, the reptilian and amphibious life is fairly limited. The
most common of these animals are those adapted to the water and swimming as sea
turtles can be found in the nearby waters and two species even nest in the
Marshall Islands. Land animals have again made their way to the islands
in numerous methods and today lizards are among the most common of these animals,
although one species of snake exists as well.
The insect and other small animal life is fairly diverse as many insects can fly
or float and they have made their way to the Marshall Islands. These animals include
butterflies, bees, ants, flies, snails, and spiders among others.
Like the animal life, the plant life is also very limited. It is doubtful any plants
originated in the country itself other than a very limited number of local plants.
However the winds and water currents have taken seeds to the islands and in other
cases birds have transported seeds to the islands. Because of this many of the most
common plants on the islands today are native to the nearby islands of New Guinea
and those further west. Plants from these nearby islands that now thrive in the
country include coconuts, taro, breadfruit, bananas, yams, arrowroot, lemons, and
sugarcane among others.
There is also a substantial presence of other trees and plants, including orchids,
hibiscus, eucalyptus, frangipani, ferns, mosses, mangrove trees, and pandanus trees.