World’s First ‘Glowing’ Reptile!


Scientists diving recently near the Solomon Islands made an illuminating discovery: The first biofluorescent sea turtle ever recorded. (Nat Geo News)

Learn how animals get that certain glow with our explainer on bioluminescence.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit, including today’s MapMaker Interactive map.

Discussion Ideas

  • Researchers describe “biofluorescence” in the hawksbill sea turtle, but our material is titled “bioluminescence.” What’s the difference?
    • Biofluorescence describes the ability of living creatures to reflect light in a different color. In biofluorescence, a stimulating light is absorbed and re-emitted. The fluorescing light is only visible in the presence of the stimulating light.
    • Bioluminescence describes the ability of living creatures to produce their own light through a series of chemical reactions.



  • Why do scientists think the hawksbill sea turtle is biofluorescent? Read the Nat Geo News article or watch the video for some help.
    • They don’t know! However, ”[Biofluorescence is] usually used for finding and attracting prey or defense or some kind of communication,” says one researcher. Some suggestions include:
      • camouflage: Biofluorescence might help the hawksbill blend in in its biofluorescent coral reef.
      • attraction: “Are they using [biofluorescence] to find each other? Are they using it to attract each other?”



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Take a look at today’s MapMaker Interactive to see where the glowing turtle was spotted, and find its habitat using latitude!



Nat Geo: Exclusive Video: First “Glowing” Sea Turtle Found

Nat Geo: World’s First Biofluorescent Reptile! interactive map

Nat Geo: What is Bioluminescence?

Nat Geo: Oceanographers See the Light

Nat Geo: What is a Hawksbill Sea Turtle?

NOAA Fisheries: What is a Hawksbill Turtle?

Nat Geo: Meet Emerging Explorer David Gruber

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