Scientists Discover ‘Glowing’ Sea Turtle

Marine biologist David Gruber didn’t plan to find a glowing sea turtle, but he’s glad he did.

The associate professor of biology at City University of New York was diving in the Solomon Islands in July doing research on biofluorescence — an animal’s ability to absorb certain types of light, then re-emit that light as a different color — in small sharks and coral reefs. This transformation is made possible through the presence of special proteins, Gruber said.

Animals that exhibit biofluorescence typically absorb and transform blue light, meaning that their neon patterns are visible deep in the ocean, where blue light is plentiful. Gruber and his team were using special camera equipment that enhances the blue light, making glowing colors stand out even more, he told The Huffington Post.

The researcher told National Geographic that he and other divers were keeping watch for crocodiles when the neon reptile “came out of nowhere.”

The green and red animal was a hawksbill sea turtle, an endangered species that lives in tropical and subtropical waters around the globe. The turtles are hunted for their flesh and their shell, which is sold for jewelry and other decorative items, and people around the world also consume the turtle’s eggs. Gruber noted that hawksbills are additionally threatened by the fishing industry, since they end up as bycatch, and by climate change.

To ensure that the glow was a species-wide phenomenon, and not just something odd going on with one turtle, Gruber located some hawksbills kept in captivity.

“We basically took those turtles and shined the blue lights on them,” he said. All of them had the neon colors of the turtle Gruber spotted while diving.

So how did nobody notice —> Read More