First biofluorescent reptile
Last updated: June 12, 2018 at 13:21 pm
Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) — In September 2015, scientists reported observing biofluorescence in a reptile for the first time when the shell of a hawksbill turtle glowed neon green and red when exposed to blue light off the Solomon Islands. Further experimenting revealed that the loggerhead turtle also fluoresces green. Unlike bioluminescence, which is the production and emission of light by a living organism, biofluorescence is the emission of light by a living organism that has absorbed light or other electromagnetic radiation. The emitted light has lower energy, and thus a longer wavelength than the absorbed light or radiation, which makes it difficult to see. When the absorbed radiation is in the ultraviolet region of the spectrum, it is invisible to the human eye, and can only be seen when exposed to UV light. A 2014 study revealed that there are also at least 180 species of biofluorescent fishes.
David Gruber | City University of New York
Sparks JS, Schelly RC, Smith WL, Davis MP, Tchernov D, Pieribone VA, et al. (2014) The Covert World of Fish Biofluorescence: A Phylogenetically Widespread and Phenotypically Variable Phenomenon. PLoS ONE 9(1): e83259. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0083259
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Jeffrey Gallant is the Editor-in-Chief and Records Keeper of the Diving Almanac. He is also a contributing editor of DIVER Magazine, and the scientific director of the Greenland Shark and Elasmobranch Education and Research Group (GEERG). Jeffrey started diving in 1982.