The First “Glowing” Sea Turtle Found

National Geographic Explorer David Gruber discovers a biofluorescent sea turtle near the Solomon Islands.

The critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle in the video above is the first reptile scientists have seen exhibiting biofluorescence. Bioflourescence is the ability to reflect blue light hitting a surface and re-emit it as a different color. According to National Geogrpahic the most common colors are green, red, and orange.

Bionflourescence should not be confused with bioluminescence. Bioluminescence is when animals either produce their own light through a series of chemical reactions, or host certain bacteria that give off light.

Think About It Thursday: How Do Firefly’s Light Up?

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The firefly also commonly known as “Lightning Bugs” produce a light within their bodies! How do they do this, you ask? Well it is through a process called bioluminescence . Bioluminescence occurs widely in marine vertebrates and invertebrates, as well as in some fungi, microorganisms including some bioluminescent bacteria. Each blip of light is produced by a chemical reaction between a special protein found in the fireflies abdomen called luciferase, a pigment called luciferin, and oxygen. Once the chemical reaction begins, the result is a bright little light.

So why do fireflies light up their little abdomens? Male fireflies cruising for mates flash a species-specific pattern to announce their availability to receptive females. An interested female will reply, helping the male locate her where she’s perched, often on low vegetation.