Marine researchers filming sea life near the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific Ocean had a startling discovery recently when they spotted a glowing sea turtle. No one had ever seen a biofluorescent turtle prior to this discovery.

The glowing hawksbill sea turtle was filmed by David Gruber, a researcher for National Geographic. It is the first of its kind ever seen to glow, and was seen giving off red and green light.

Glowing sea turtle produces light via absorption

According to Gruber, recent studies with other biofluorescent creatures like jelly fish and coral have led to huge biomedical science breakthroughs in the past few years.

The glowing sea turtle, like other biofluorescent creatures, is able to glow due to its ability to absorb the light and then radiate it in different colors. The glow helps researchers see inside cells and better study the way they work.

This form of glowing is different than that of, for example, a lightening bug, which makes its own glow via chemical reactions. Besides the glowing sea turtle spotted by the scientists, over 200 different kinds of sharks and other fish, as well as insects and crabs have been found to have biofluorescent qualities.

Glowing is used for several purposes by animals, insects

The various creatures that can emit this kind of glowing phenomenon have been found to do so for several different reasons. For example, one species of coral does it as a form of protection against excessive sun exposure, while some kinds of fish do it as a lure to attract prey or mates.

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Other creatures also use this glowing as a way to communicate to each other. As yet, no one is certain why this particular breed of turtle would have also developed this glowing ability.

Biofluorescence causes a neon-like appearance

Biofluorescence occur when a creature absorbs the blue light from the ocean and then is able to put it back out, usually in the form of red, green or orange. The hawksbill turtle the scientists discovered to have this ability appeared to them as red and green and was said to look almost like a neon alien in the distance.

Hawksbill turtles are endangered and threatened as a species. Their habitat is being threatened due to things like climate change and there are not many breeding animals left to populate the species. Scientists can only speculate the purpose of the biofluorescence in this glowing sea turtle.