Endangered Turtle Which Uses Fluorescent Light to Glow in the Dark Found Near Solomon Islands


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?images

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.

Though it can’t be proven that organisms are intentionally using biofluorescence, it is very likely.  The reasons for why, however, are even less clear.  Some theories suggest that the animals use it for mating purposes.  They may also be using it as camouflage, as many of the corals they swim around are vividly colored.  I’d like to think the hawkbill is doing it on purpose and that it is not just a random act of nature.  Perhaps it has some subconscious awareness of its species’ precarious position in the circle of life, and is finding as many creative ways as it can to stay in the game.  Hopefully the turtle’s pretty colors benefit it and the species can begin to grow again.  Either way, it is a beautiful sight to see, and a miraculous discovery.

What is your theory on biofluorescence?  Do you think animals intentionally use it, and if so, why?