Scientist discovers first glowing sea turtle in Solomon Islands

It’s a known fact that certain coral species glow underwater. There are also some eels, jellyfish, and over 180 other fish species that possess the ability of glowing underwater. However, to date, it was not known that reptiles can also light themselves up like a Christmas tree. Now, thanks to marine biologist David Gruber, we know that there’s a sea turtle species that can glow underwater.

During an expedition in July, the marine biologist discovered a glowing hawksbill sea turtle, one of the most cortically endangered species living currently, in the Solomon Islands. The said expedition was funded by the TBA 21 Academy.

TBA 21 Academy is working to re-imagine the culture of exploration and thereby opening a fresh chapter of “the history of art at sea”. Gruber, on the other hand, proceeded with the expedition with the aim of filming small sharks and bio-fluorescent corals.

For those who don’t know, National Geographic defines bio-fluorescence as the ability of reflecting blue light hitting a surface and then reemitting it in a different color. It has to be remembered that bio-fluorescence and bio-luminescence are not the same. Bio-luminescence is the term used for an animal’s ability of emitting their own light by means of host bacteria or chemical reactions.

Gruber came across the hawksbill sea turtle when he was filming a coral reef. According to him, the turtle looked like a bright green and red spaceship when it suddenly appeared in front of him.

Markus Reymann, the director of TBA21 Academy and the diving partner of Gruber, said that so far he has never come across such a calm turtle. Reymann liked the light the turtle was emitting and the way it was hanging out with the diver duo.

Here, it must be mentioned that scientists started studying bio-fluorescence only around 10 years back. Gruber said the moment scientists began searching for bio-fluorescence they started finding it almost everywhere. First, they found the feature in jellyfish and corals, and then they discovered it in fish of different species and finally they came across this UFO-like turtle.

The majority of the bio-fluorescent creatures identified to date display just a single color, which is usually either red or green. Corals, however, can showcase both colors and this newly identified turtle also appears to have the ability of displaying both red and green.