Eels That Glow Green Discovered In The Caribbean

It is speculated that the eels glow green in order to better find a mate.

The false moray eel (Kaupichthys hyoproroides) glows green.
The false moray eel (Kaupichthys hyoproroides) glows green.

In September, biologist David Gruber with National Geographic Emerging Explorer discovered a biofluorescent Hawksbill sea turtle in the Solomon Islands.  On November 11, Gruber and colleagues JP Gaffney, S Mehr, R, DeSalle, JS Sparks, and J Platisa published a research paper in the PLOS One Journal detailing two species of eels that glow an eerie neon green in coloration.

Gruber was photographing biofluorescent corals off Little Cayman Island in the Caribbean when he photographed the little 7 inch eel, glowing green. Gruber and his colleagues determined that the false moray eel (Kaupichthys hyoproroides) and a second false moray eel that has not yet been described glow fluorescent green.

The question that Gruber and his colleagues wanted to know was how exactly did these two species glow? They determined, based on molecular analysis of the eels muscle tissue that the green glow is caused by a family of fluorescent proteins that are completely new to science. They told National Geographic that at some point in the evolutionary timeline of these eels, the proteins somehow migrated from the brains of these fish to their muscles, and this is where the proteins started to glow. Why they glow Gruber does not know, but he does speculate that it may be to better find a mate during breeding season, during times when the moon is full.

The complete paper can be read on the PLOS One Journal website.

Article Categories:
Fish · Lifestyle

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