Marine biologists discovered the first ever biofluorescent hawksbill sea turtle, while on a diving expedition.
This is the first time that glowing reptiles are found by scientists. Marine creatures, which are biofluorescent, have the ability to convert the light of the water that surrounds them (in this case blue light) into a different colour. Many times these colours are neon orange, green, and red.
In July, David Grubber, a marine biologist, ocean explorer and professor at City University of New York, went to the Solomon Island in the South Pacific with some fellow researchers to film biofluorescent creatures.
“Out of the blue, 40 minutes into the dive – it almost looks like a bright red and green spaceship – it came underneath the camera. It just bumped into us,” Gruber stated.
According to Gruber, only the coral is able to glow in two different colours. Sea horses, sharks, some species of fish and some crustaceans are amongst the animals that glow through biofluorescence.
However, fish that live in the deep sea and jellyfish are not biofluorescent, but rather bioluminescent. Bioluminescence is defined by a chemical reaction that occurs within the body of the creature, creating glowing light. They use this ability in order to attract prey, navigate, and communicate.
The camera that was used by Gruber and his colleagues when they recorded the hawksbill sea turtle emitted a blue light that was similar to the blue light of the water.
After this strange encounter, the marine biologists found several young hawksbill turtles which were held in captivity by locals. When they saw the turtles, the scientists noticed that they glowed red.
Alexander Gaos, director of the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative, who had been studying turtles for a long time, was stunned when he heard about the glowing turtles.
The most numerous populations of hawksbill sea turtles can be found in the Seychelles, Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, Australia, and Indonesia. Because of their beautifully coloured shells, the hawksbill sea turtles were often hunted, which led to a major population decrease.
These sea turtles are categorised as endangered species, since their number was reduced by 80 percent in the last century.
Nowadays tortoiseshell trade is illegal, but many hawksbill sea turtles still decrease in number because their habitat is slowly being destroyed, they often get tangled in fishing nets, or because they are illegally killed, or captured.
Image Source: nationalgeographic