First Biofluorescent Sea Turtle Discovered; Science Rejoices

Biofluorescent Turtle

Hey, Mother Nature, we seriously dig you. You amazed us with letting us discover the teeniest glass frog who happened to look like Kermit the Frog, and earlier this week, we yelled “Eureka!” over the confirmation that yes, Houston, there is liquid water on Mars. What else could possibly follow that?!

How about a glowing sea turtle?

Marine biologist David Gruber of City University of New York was recently doing research in the Solomon Islands, just chilling underwater and filming an array of biofluorescent fish and coral. He’s capturing the shining neon spectacle he’s familiar with — and then someone quite unexpected made an appearance.


This biofluorescent sea turtle “appears out of nowhere”, Gruber recalls”, “looking like a big spaceship gliding into view”, the gorgeous yellow stripes across its carapace peppered with flecks of neon coquelicot red.

The vision itself was rather unexpected, but in the sea turtle came and “sort of just hung out with us for like, five minutes or so” Gruber says. “She sort of just came out and revealed her secrets to us.”

“After a few moments I let it go because I didn’t want to harass it,” he continues.

Hold on, though: Is there a difference between bioluminisence and biofluoresence? Let’s get your glow-y terms straight. Bioluminisence is when animals produce light through a chemical reaction, pretty much the way glow-worms and fireflies, and yes, some fungi, do — self-made light, if you will. On the other hand, biofluoresence happens when an animal absorbs the blue color in light, processes it, and ejects it as an entirely different color, usually green, red, or yellow.

This biofluorescent hawksbill sea turtle is an even bigger call to action to be more mindful of the marine ecosystem and do what we can to preserve it. the turtle itself is now critically endangered, with only a few thousand females left who are willing to breed.

Watch the wonder in action here:

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