For the first time, scientists have found a reptile that exhibits biofluorescence – which means it can emit light in a varying degree of colours. The creature, known as a hawksbill sea turtle, was spotted off the Solomon Islands by marine biologist David Gruber of the City University of New York.
As reported by National Geographic, the creature reflects incoming blue light in a variety of colours – green, red, and orange – to give off its ghostly appearance. Gruber and his team discovered the animal by accident, while out looking for crocodiles and studying coral.
Speaking to National Geographic, Gruber said the turtle “came out of nowhere,” but they let it go without hassling it so as not to disturb it. These turtles are critically endangered, with just a few thousand breeding females remaining in some locations – but it seems the hawksbill has much more of a story to tell.
Why the turtle uses biofluorescence, such as for mating or other reasons, is not known. Gruber noted that the red on the turtle may have been from biofluorescent algae, but the green was definitely from the turtle. Such abilities are starting to look more commonplace in marine animals though, with eels and jellyfish included in those that can glow in the dark. Now the hawksbill turtlte will have to be added to the list, too.
Check out the amazing video of the turtle below.