So pretty that it ~glows~.
Scientists have recently discovered that the hawksbill sea turtle found in the waters off the Solomon Islands is neon green and red.
Some of the red on the hawksbill could be caused by algae on the shell that was fluorescing, but the neon green is without a doubt from the turtle, scientists told the National Geographic, which first reported the discovery.
It’s the first marine reptile scientists have found that exhibits biofluorescence, which is the ability to absorb light and re-emit it as a different color.
(This is not to be confused with bioluminescence, which is when an organism can produce its own light.)
Prior to this, scientists have known of corals that use fluorescence, as well as a number of fish, sharks, rays, tiny crustaceans called copepods, and mantis shrimp.
Colors on these animals appear as either green, red, or orange.
Marine biologist David Gruber, of City University of New York, found the fluorescent sea turtle by chance when he was night diving in the Solomon Islands in late July and planning to film the phenomena in sharks and coral.
He only caught a quick glimpse of the turtle, but was able to notice its startling colors before it swam off into the deep ocean. Gruber confirmed his findings by comparing them with captive young hawksbills kept by local residents.
“I've been [studying turtles] for a long time and I don't think anyone's ever seen this,” Alexander Gaos, director of the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative, who was not involved in discovering the new turtle, told National Geographic. “This is really quite amazing.”
It's not entirely certain why the turtles have the ability to fluoresce, but it could be a form of camouflage.