The turtle is the first marine reptile that has the ability of emitting light.
Marine biologists have discovered a sea turtle that has the unique ability of glowing in the dark.
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David Gruber from City University of New York spotted this rare turtle while filming fluorescent corals in the South Pacific near the Solomon Island and its shell was glowing neon green and red.
Biologists say that sea turtle is glowing due to biofluorescence, a process in which animals absorb light and re-emit it in different colors, most commonly green, red and orange.
Biofluorescence has been observed in a number of animals including fish, shark, tiny crustaceans and shrimps but it is the first time when scientists have found a marine reptile that emits light.
“I’ve been studying turtles for a long time and I don’t think anyone’s ever seen it,” said Alexander Gaos, director of the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative, who was not a part of the find. “This is really quite amazing.”
In late July, Gruber and his team were recording glowing coral reefs and small sharks when “there came out of nowhere this fluorescent turtle.” Gruber said.
The fluorescent turtle belongs to a critically endangered species of turtle known as hawksbill sea turtles. According to statistics, their population has declined to 90 percent in recent decades. But the finding is certainly important and it opens up a series of questions about this marine animal like from where they get this light, do they make it from the food or produce it through chemical reactions and why this sea turtle illuminates in dark.
“Biofluorescence is usually used for finding and attracting prey or defense or some kind of communication.” Gaos said. Sea turtles probably use it to hide themselves, though it is not confirmed yet and further research is required to find the answer of several questions related to this turtle.
“It is very exciting as sea turtles live in a blue ocean, which is the perfect light environment to excite the fluorescent molecules and cause them to give off light in other colors,” said Gruber. “We are finding biofluorescent marine life to be much more widespread that we ever imagined.”
Source: National Geographic