A sea turtle in the Solomon Islands has set imaginations to "11" on the mind-blown dial. It's being hailed as the first documented reptile to glow by way of biofluorescence.
National Geographic has the details behind the spotting of a hawksbill sea turtle by one of its explorers -- marine biologist David Gruber, from City University of New York.
The turtle Gruber spotted and recorded was showing off bright green and red colors that gave it a neon glow. It was biofluorescing -- reflecting blue light and flashing it back out as another color. (Not to be confused with the bioluminescence some animals exhibit, where they essentially give off their own light from within or from things such as bacteria resting on them.)
Corals and other creatures of the deep biofluoresce, National Geographic notes, but a marine reptile doing it came as a complete surprise.
"I've been [studying turtles] for a long time and I don't think anyone's ever seen this," a hawksbill sea turtle expert told NatGeo.
Gruber followed the shiny turtle for a bit before letting it go on its way. He told NatGeo it was too soon to know how glowing helps this particular turtle, adding that the usual reasons tend to do with hunting, camouflage, or communication.
The researcher said that while the glowing turtle raises many questions -- how specifically it does it, why it does it, for example -- the critically endangered animals will be tough to study. Their populations have declined about 80 percent in the last 10 years, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's "red list" of endangered species.
via National Geographic