View Full Version : First ‘Glowing’ Sea Turtle Discovered in Solomon Islands

10-02-2015, 02:44 PM
Are they sure it is not glowing from the nuclear leakage in Japan? :rolleyes:
(A little jest)

First ‘Glowing’ Sea Turtle Discovered in Solomon Islands

by Laura Goldman (http://www.care2.com/causes/author/lauragoldman)
October 1, 2015
5:30 pm

Some corals (http://www.care2.com/causes/7-amazing-things-you-never-knew-about-coral.html) are known to “glow” underwater, as do some jellyfish (http://www.care2.com/causes/12-terrifying-facts-about-jellyfish-and-why-theyre-taking-over.html), eels and more than 180 other fish species (http://www.amnh.org/explore/news-blogs/research-posts/researchers-reveal-covert-world-of-fish-biofluorescence).
And now, for the first time ever, it was discovered that reptiles also have the ability to light up like a Christmas tree.
In July, a glowing hawksbill sea turtle (http://www.care2.com/causes/researchers-pull-plastic-straw-out-of-sea-turtles-nose-in-heartbreaking-effort-to-help.html) — a critically endangered species – was discovered in the Solomon Islands by David Gruber, a marine biologist.
Gruber was on an expedition funded by the TBA 21 Academy (http://www.tba21academy.org/), whose mission, according to its website, is to “reimagine the culture of exploration, opening a new chapter in the history of art at sea.” His intention was to film bioflourescent corals and small sharks.
Biofluorescence, as National Geographic (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/150928-sea-turtles-hawksbill-glowing-biofluorescence-coral-reef-ocean-animals-science150928-sea-turtles-hawksbill-glowing-biofluorescence-coral-reef-ocean-animals-science/) explains, is “the ability to reflect the blue light hitting a surface and re-emit it as a different color.”
This is not the same as bioluminescence, which is the ability of animals to emit their own light through chemical reactions or host bacteria.
One night as Gruber was filming a coral reef, the hawksbill sea turtle appeared “from out of the blue,” he said in a National Geographic video. He described the turtle as looking like a “bright red and green spaceship.”
Gruber’s diving partner, TBA 21 Academy Director Markus Reymann, said in the video that he’d never seen a turtle that calm. “He was just hanging out with us. I was loving the light.”

Scientists have only been studying bioflourescence for about 10 years. “As soon as we started tuning into it, we started finding it everywhere,” Gruber said. “First it was in corals and jellyfish, then it was in fish – and there it was, this UFO.”
Most bioflourescent animals display only one color, usually green or red. Corals can display both colors – and apparently, so can sea turtles, although Gruber said the red could be from algae on the shell.
The reason why the hawksbill is bioflourescent remains a mystery. “We know they have really good vision. They go on long and arduous migrations,” Gruber said. He said they could glow to find or attract each other.
It could also be a defense mechanism to protect themselves from predators. Alexander Gaos, director of the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative (http://www.hawksbill.org/) (ICAPO), a nonprofit working to bring this species back from the brink of extinction, told National Geographic bioflourescence could serve as a kind of camouflage.
Hawksbills are already sometimes difficult to spot because their shells blend in with their rocky reef habitat, Gaos said.
According to ICAPO (http://www.hawksbill.org/about/hawksbills/), hawksbills are the only species of sea turtle with “a brilliantly colored, keratinous shell consisting of overlapping (imbricated) scutes, colloquially referred to as a tortoise shell.”
Sadly, its unique shell is what has driven the hawksbill to near extinction. Along with the dangers facing all sea turtles, such as getting caught in fishing nets and tangled in plastic bags and other marine pollution, the hawksbills are the only species killed for their shells. For centuries, tortoiseshell was used in jewelry, combs, ornaments and other items.
In 1977, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) treaty generally put an end to the tortoiseshell trade. Japan continued to import the shells until 1991, when it stopped doing so to prevent a U.S. fish embargo. Unfortunately, the tortoiseshell trade still continues underground, according to ICAPO.
Because the hawksbill sea turtle is now one of the rarest species on Earth, finding the reasons for its bioflourescence will be extremely difficult. Gruber will instead study the green sea turtle, which is closely related to the hawksbill but not as close to extinction.
“What’s even more sad about this is these turtles have such a storied history, and now they’re critically endangered,” Gruber said.
But there is some encouraging news: Hawksbill sea turtles are showing signs of recovery (http://www.care2.com/causes/south-pacific-islands-are-providing-a-haven-for-nearly-extinct-sea-turtles.html) in the Arnavon Islands, according to a study earlier this year by the Nature Conservancy (http://www.nature.org/). Because of conservation efforts, their population has doubled over the past 20 years.
And that’s something we can all glow about.

http://www.care2.com/causes/first-glowing-sea-turtle-discovered-in-solomon-islands.html#ixzz3nRQIhVvG (http://www.care2.com/causes/first-glowing-sea-turtle-discovered-in-solomon-islands.html#ixzz3nRQIhVvG)