Scientists Discover First ‘Glowing’ Sea Turtle
National Geographic announced on Monday that a scientist studying marine life near the Solomon Islands found the first species of turtle to use biofluorescence – in other words, turtles that glow. “The critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle is the first reptile scientists have seen exhibiting biofluorescence – the ability to reflect the blue light hitting a surface and re-emit it as a different color. The most common colors are green, red, and orange.”
In the video, the hawksbill sea turtle is “glowing” neon green and red. Biofluorescence differs from bioluminescence in that bioluminescent animals “either produce their own light through a series of chemical reactions, or host bacteria that give off light.” Biofluorescence simply reflects and changes light waves that interact with it. “I’ve been [studying turtles] for a long time and I don’t think anyone’s ever seen this,” says Alexander Gaos, director of the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative, who was not involved in the find. “This is really quite amazing.” The discovery was made by marine biologist David Gruber, a City University of New York professor, who was in the Solomon Islands in late July to film biofluorescence in small sharks and coral reefs when “out of nowhere this fluorescent turtle” came by. Gruber was able to capture the extraordinary find on video and later learned natives in nearby villages keep the turtles captive and was able to examine them some more. No word yet on whether the turtles know karate, eat pizza, and fight crime. We’ll keep you updated.
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