While continuing research in the Solomon Islands, a marine biologist discovered and documented the first biofluorescent reptile -- a hawksbill sea turtle.
Marine biologist and biology professor at the City University of New York David Gruber was filming small biofluorescent sharks near Nugu Island on July 31 when the turtle swam directly into him, Gruber told ABC News today.
“I followed it for a few minutes and then it dove down a deep coral wall. I decided to leave it alone as it had already divulged its secret,” Gruber said.
Biofluorescence is the ability for an organism to absorb light, transform it and re-emit it as a different color. Many sea creatures have shown the ability to show single colors but this turtle is one of the first organisms to show two, Gruber said, adding that so far only corals have shown two colors.
“Biofluorescence was first intensively studied in corals,” Gruber said. “Scientists were surprised last year to find it widespread in fish and sharks, where we hypothesized it to be a potential 'covert' means of communication.”
Gruber added that a few weeks ago scientists found evidence of this phenomenon being a “prey attractant,” meaning it can have functional significance among marine life.