Off the coast of the Solomon Islands is an illuminating natural wonder that lurks in the unexplored depths of the Pacific. The waters surrounding the archipelago nation of the Solomon Islands are known to be some of the most diverse in the world, little wonder that the latest discovery that’s causing a stir in the scientific community just happened to be found here.
The Hawksbill Turtle: An Ocean Luminary
The biofluorescent hawksbill sea turtle is a critically endangered species and is the first marine reptile that scientists have seen to exhibit biofluorescence. Hawksbill turtle populations have been in sharp decline over the past decade with numbers dropping a staggering 80%. It was in the pristine waters of the Solomon’s that these turtles were first spotted displaying entrancing hues of bright green and red, giving them a unique neon glow. While this phenomenon is known to exist in a number of other marine life such as mantis shrimp, as well as certain species of sharks, rays and jellyfish, this is the first time in natural history that a marine reptile has been documented exhibiting biofluorescence.
This glowing neon wonder is a striking example of a marine reptile biofluorescing- not to be confused with the bioluminescence that some other animals exhibit- it absorbs blue light, transforming it and flashing different colours back. The hawksbill turtle is particularly unique as it emits both green and red while most creatures tend to emit just one colour. How the hawksbill turtle uses its biofluorescence to its advantage remains to be fully understood. Other species who exhibit biofluorescence use it as a means of communication, to attract prey or to defend itself. Although the real reasons remain to be proven, it is strongly suspected that these turtles use it as a means for camouflage.
Biodiverse Waters of the Solomon’s
The Solomon Islands finds itself in a unique geographical location called the Coral Triangle and boasts some of the most biodiverse waters that can still be found on the planet today. It is home to 5,750km² of reef which remains virtually untouched and unaffected by human interference. You’ll find a kaleidoscope of hard and soft corals, large sea fans, as well as a myriad of technicolour reef fish and ocean critters. The underwater realm of the Solomon Islands provides the nursing grounds for thousands of species of reef fish, as well as migratory routes for manta rays, sharks and dolphins.
Teeming with life, the Solomon’s provides an unrivalled diving experience- one that is not easily forgotten.
The island hamlet of Munda, located on the island of New Georgia in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands makes the perfect base from which to explore this underwater wonderland and encounter these biofluorescent turtles first hand. The idyllic settlement of Munda has a dedicated dive centre, Dive Munda, where friendly and experienced staff give you expert advice on which local dive sites sightings of the hawksbill turtles have been reported. World-class diving awaits those who are looking for a truly exceptional experience.