He only caught a quick glimpse of the turtle, but was able to notice its startling colors before it swam off into the deep ocean. Gruber confirmed his findings by comparing them with captive young hawksbills kept by local residents.
"I've been [studying turtles] for a long time and I don't think anyone's ever seen this," Alexander Gaos, director of the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative, who was not involved in discovering the new turtle, told National Geographic. "This is really quite amazing."
It's not entirely certain why the turtles have the ability to fluoresce, but it could be a form of camouflage.