Scientists discover biofluorescent sea turtle

Scientists working near the Solomon Islands have made a very interesting discovery. The team has found the first biofluorescent reptile ever recorded. The glowing reptile is a sea turtle that glows neon red and green. The specific breed of turtle is a hawkbill sea turtle and it is the first reptile that has been discovered showing biofluorescence.

Biofluorescence is the ability to reflect blue light hitting a surface and emit it as a different color with the most common being, red, green, and orange. This is a different trait than animals that are bioluminescent, which is when the animal can produce its own light via chemical reaction of host bacteria that produce light.

Corals fluoresce and some fish, sharks, rays, crustaceans, and shrimp have the ability. The turtle was discovered when the team was performing research in an area crocodiles frequent on a night dive. The illumination for the night dive was a blue light that matched the blue light of the surrounding ocean and a yellow filter on the camera allowed the glow to be recorded.

A nearby community kept some hawkbills captive and the scientists found that those turtles also showed biofluorescent ability, so the feat isn't limited to one turtle. The scientists say it is too early to tell why the turtles have this glowing ability and whether or not populations of the turtles in other places have the same capability.

SOURCE: National Geographic