Scientists Discover World’s First Ever Glowing Turtle

glowing turtle

Photo Credit: National Geographic

No, that isn’t a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle” – it’s a genuine glowing turtle – the first biofluorescent reptile discovered by scientists – ever.

While filming small sharks and coral reefs in the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, marine biologists had a very surprising encounter with the “glowing” sea turtle. They captured footage of the hawkbill sea turtle emitting neon green and red light. The discovery was made this summer by David Gruber of the City University of New York and his team. The footage was released for the first time on Monday.

Check it out here:

“We found a biofluorescent turtle!” one of the divers could be heard calling out from the water. “The first I’ve ever seen of a biofluorescent turtle,” scientist David Gruber exclaimed, totally amazed. “Spectacular.”

That sighting was a historic moment. In an interview with CNN, he said the turtle swam into the team’s lights while they were filming coral underwater. The turtle’s appearance was unexpected and took everyone by surprise.

Finding a reptile that exhibits biofluorescence opens up a new set of questions he also noted. “Why is a turtle emitting light? What is the chemical composition?”

In just a few years, scientists have started to pay more attention to biofluorescence in marine species. Gruber said, “It’s a bit like a mystery novel. It started with jellyfish and coral, and the fluorescent molecules jellyfish and coral create has lead to monumental breakthroughs in biomedical science.”

Fluorescence has helped provide a marker for scientists to see the inner workings of cells and that has partially lead to an explosion in research in the biofluorescence field,” he added.