Scientists discover the first biofluorescent reptile, a Hawksbill sea turtle

David Gruber, a marine biologist from New York City University, went to the Solomon Islands to film a variety of fish and biofluorescent corals, when suddenly a completely unexpected thing broke in: a yellow and red turtle. The creature is a critically endangered hawksbill turtle, and until this observation, the phenomenon had never been documented in turtles, let alone other reptiles.

Biofluorescence is the ability of an organism to reflect blue light and re-emit it in a different color, not to be confused with bioluminescence, where organisms produce their own light.

Many underwater creatures such as coral, sharks and some shrimp have shown the ability to show colors like green, red or orange under the right lighting conditions, but according to National Geographic, no body has shown the ability to emit two distinct colors. As seen in the video, the color appears not only in mottled patterns on the turtle’s shell, but extends even into the slits of its head and feet. Gruber mentions that it could be a mixture of glowing algae attached to the turtle, but the yellow fluorescence is undoubtedly part of the animal.

Watch the video below to see the moment of discovery and learn more about Nat Geo.

Scientists discover the first biofluorescent reptile, a sea turtle ‘Hawksbill’ video:

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