Let’s face it, animals are amazing. Some of the things they do to in order to perpetuate their existence are truly incredible. The hawksbill turtle is no different in that regard. This little guy has adapted a very unexpected trait that is sure to fascinate you. It’s called biofluorescence.
At the risk of getting overly scientific, biofluorescence is when a living creature absorbs light (blue light, specifically) via proteins in its body and emits the light back out again in different colors and at a lower energy level. Basically, this turtle is a living, breathing multi-colored fluorescent light… and one that swims! That’d be pretty cool to have in your house, wouldn’t it?
It was found near the Solomon Islands (don’t worry, I’m not exactly sure where that is either) and, sadly, is known to be critically endangered. Surprisingly, though, the hawkbill is not the first creature to use biofluorescence to its advantage. Biofluorescence has been studied for about ten years and was already known to be very common among smaller organisms, such as plankton, corals, algae, and jellyfish. Now it is known to be possible in much bigger, more conspicuous creatures.
The even cooler part about this turtle being found is that no one was looking for it. Marine biologists by the name of Alexander Gaos and David Gruber happened to randomly spot the creature while doing a routine night dive, and from there National Geographic was notified.
See this critter in action below, as caught on tape by National Geographic.
What is your theory on biofluorescence? Do you think animals intentionally use it, and if so, why?