STATES CHRONICLE – Marine biologists exploring the South Pacific have stumbled across the world’s first glowing turtle species. It’s one that you’ve heard of before and it’s making researchers scratch their heads as they have yet to figure out how the neon colors benefit the sea creature.
Back in July, David Gruber, associate professor of biology working at City University (New York), set out to explore the Solomon Islands. He wanted to conduct research on biofluorescence in coral reefs. However, the biofluorescent sea turtle he cane across wasn’t a discovery he was planning on making.
Field experts describe biofluorescence as an animal’s ability to capture blue light, transform it in a different color and re-emit it. Professor Gruber informed this happens because certain animals are equipped with special proteins that enable them to convert light.
Professor Gruber offered a statement to National Geographic describing the moment he and his team of divers first saw the glowing sea turtle – they were keeping an eye out for crocodiles, when all of a sudden, the neon turtle in question “came out of nowhere”. The animal was an endangered hawksbill sea turtle and it glowed in shades of red and green light.
The species is in danger of going extinct because people hunt it down for a few different reasons. On one hand, the creatures’ beautiful shells are used to create jewelry and some other decorative items, and on the other hand, people consume their flesh and also their eggs.
The most likely explanation for why no one’s noticed before that these animals glow is that shallow water does not host enough blue light to cause the hawksbill sea turtles to glow, according to professor Gruber.
But ironically, the lead researcher believes that people have witnessed members of the species glowing in the past, they just didn’t realize what was happening. He explained that there are several images that show hawksbill sea turtles giving off red and green lights, but photographers usually attributed this effect to an equipment malfunction.
The experiment sparked professor Gruber’s curiosity, so he went to visit a loggerhead sea turtle at an aquarium and he “shined the blue lights” on the animal to see what would happen. The result was that this species also exhibited signs of biofluorescence, however the field expert admitter that further research needs to conduct on loggerhead sea turtles before the discovery can be made official.
Image Source: grindtv.com