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Scientists Discovered the First 'Glowing' Sea Turtle

When marine biologist David Gruber visited the Solomon Islands in July to study biofluorescence, he never expected to find the glowing phenomenon in a sea turtle. No other reptiles are known to exhibit this colorful quality, and the glowing hawksbill sea turtle he filmed marks the first ever biofluorescent reptile known to science.

"It almost looks like a bright red and green space ship came right underneath my camera," he told National Geographic.

While bioluminescence is the ability for animals to produce their own light through chemical reactions, biolfluorescence occurs when an organism reflects blue light hitting a surface and reproduces it as a different color. The occurrence has been observed in a number of fish, corals, sharks, rays, mantis shrimp, and tiny crustaceans called copepods. It’s normally used as a method for attracting prey or as some form of communication, but it’s still too early to say how exactly it benefits the hawksbill. 

One possible explanation is that the same shell that provides an impressive camouflage during the day could light up at night as a way of helping the turtles blend in with the fluorescent coral reef. Corals are the only other organisms that have been observed producing multiple glowing colors, but Gruber points out that the turtle's red color may be the product of fluorescent algae on its shell. Even if that’s the case, he says the turtle’s neon green markings are definitely the real deal. 

Hawksbill sea turtles are one of the rarest species on the planet, with their worldwide populations having dwindled by 90 percent in just the past few decades. It’s difficult to study a species when it’s so endangered, so Gruber plans to seek out answers to the questions his discovery raised by looking at the green sea turtle, a close relative of the hawksbill. 

[h/t: National Geographic]

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Courtesy of The National Aviary
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Animals
Watch This Live Stream to See Two Rare Penguin Chicks Hatch From Their Eggs
Courtesy of The National Aviary
Courtesy of The National Aviary

Bringing an African penguin chick into the world is an involved process, with both penguin parents taking turns incubating the egg. Now, over a month since they were laid, two penguin eggs at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are ready to hatch. As Gizmodo reports, the baby birds will make their grand debut live for the world to see on the zoo's website.

The live stream follows couple Sidney and Bette in their nest, waiting for their young to emerge. The first egg was laid November 7 and is expected to hatch between December 14 and 18. The second, laid November 11, should hatch between December 18 and 22.

"We are thrilled to give the public this inside view of the arrival of these rare chicks," National Aviary executive director Cheryl Tracy said in a statement. "This is an important opportunity to raise awareness of a critically endangered species that is in rapid decline in the wild, and to learn about the work that the National Aviary is doing to care for and propagate African penguins."

African penguins are endangered, with less than 25,000 pairs left in the wild today. The National Aviary, the only independent indoor nonprofit aviary in the U.S., works to conserve threatened populations and raise awareness of them with bird breeding programs and educational campaigns.

After Sidney and Bette's new chicks are born, they will care for them in the nest for their first three weeks of life. The two penguins are parenting pros at this point: The monogamous couple has already hatched and raised three sets of chicks together.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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holidays
Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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