There has been a lot of news recently about a bio-fluorescent turtle. It's amazing what life is able to do. We want to explain a little more about what bio-fluorescence is and what it's not. Being bio-fluorescent and not bio-luminescent is probably the reason we didn't know turtles could glow before this point.
This Hawkbill Turtle was found glowing by David Gruber and his team in Solomon Islands. Gruber was filming glowing coral, sharks, and fish, and the turtle came into view, glowing. Now why hasn't this ever been discovered before? It is important to recognize the difference between bio-fluorescence and bio-luminescence. The difference is not too large in action, but brings about a large difference in our ability to perceive them.
Bio-Luminescence and bio-fluorescence are very similar in that light is created by electrons being energized and then slowing down and releasing energy in the form of light. The way in which those electrons are activated is the difference. Bio-luminescence is created by chemicals in an organism reacting with each other and causing those electrons to gain energy and then release it. This happens with fireflies, angler fish, and other creatures you may find in the deep dark waters. This also takes place in algae, and bacteria. This is how you will see waves glowing in the evening.
On the other hand, bio-fluorescence happens from an external source of energy, or light rays that cause the reaction within an organism. Blue light waves are the most active and will generally cause this reaction. As the light waves hit the organism, the light will react with the specific molecules and activate the electrons which will release the energy in their own color, creating a varied range of color, depending on the molecular makeup.
Bio-fluorescence can be hard to see with the naked eye, but the ocean can be a perfect place for organisms to take on bio-fluorescence, living in a blue world where light is filtered through the water and mostly blue light is was is seen.
It is incredible that animals can adapt and use their chemistry to glow. What it's used for, we still don't know but are attempting to figure out. It could be used for reasons of luring prey, communicating, mating, defense mechanisms, etc. It is just more exciting, the more we figure out!
And, we'd like to help you get in the water and see these amazing creatures. Be sure to check out our snorkeling gear, and go swim with some sea turtles!