A scientist has made a shocking new discovery in England: under UV light the bills of Atlantic puffins light up like a glow stick.
Jamie Dunning, an ornithologist that usually works with another type of bird, had been contemplating about glow beaks in puffins for awhile, given that seabirds of the same family – crested auklets – have been known to have light-up bills.
The discovery happened back in January when Dunning decided to shine a UV light on a puffin carcass. He confesses the finding was in a way made by accident, confirming to Newsweek, that he was randomly placing specimens under black lights, with no expectations when the beak of a puffin corpse began to fluoresce vibrantly.
Although it’s not yet clear what causes the fluorescence, something in those particular parts of the puffin bill allow the UV light to be absorbed and reemitted as glowing light.
While bill luminescence has some use for the puffins, it is still a mystery what these feathery friends use the fluorescence for.
The bill of a puffin is forged by generations, hundreds and thousands of years, of sexual selection. There’s a lot going on there. That’s why it’s so colorful and pretty. […] The fluorescence in the Atlantic puffin could have evolved for the purpose of sexual display to attract a mate, or possibly to help chicks see their parents.”
The ability to see color comes from small internal receptors in our eyes called rods and cones. The human eye has three cones and is capable of perceiving a mixture of red, yellows and blues (our primary colors) and everything that those colors combine to create. What’s interesting with birds is that they have a fourth cone meaning that their eyes can perceive a whole other dimension of colors. Basically, they can see colors that we can’t even begin to comprehend; a property termed tetrachromatic vision. A scientist has made a shocking new discovery in England. Under UV light the bills of Atlantic puffins light up like a glow stick.
Its hards to say what it would look like [to birds], we can’t comprehend that color space, [b]ut almost certainly it’s attractive to birds. They must be able to see it – that’s the only reason it would exist.”
— Jamie Dunning, Ornithologist
It could very well be, that birds have always known about the extra colors in the puffin bill.
Thus far, bill fluorescence in Atlantic puffins has been observed solely on a carcass in Dunning’s lab.
Looking ahead, this phenomenon needs to be tested in the field, to ensure the bright beak isn’t just happening because of decomposition. Scientists have even made unique sunglasses to protect wild birds when they are caught for tagging.
If this exciting discovery has ruffled your feathers and you’re interested in learning more, keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming paper about puffin fluorescence being published by Dunning in collaboration with colleagues at the University of New Brunswick.
Writers Note: Sources CBC News, Newsweek. Photo Credit: Jamie Dunning and Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon/CBC
Are you a pig on air? You are not alone. Find out how you can get more out of your scuba diving tank.
Florida may be known for its ocean coast, but this southern state is also home to some of the best spring and cave systems in the country.
Some people go to Brussels for the waffles, others go for the impressive architecture scene. Scuba divers go to Brussels to dive in the Nemo 33 indoor pool.
The Mediterranean oasis of Spain's Costa Brava is a delight for divers. With wreck dives, shore dives and wall dives just off the coast, to truly explore this destination you must take to the sea.
Problem: you want to take decent underwater pictures but good photography gear is just so expensive. Solution: learn how to take good underwater pictures with your handy dandy GoPro, it's easier than you think.
Dark, ancient and mysterious are a few words that can be used to describe the Devil's Den cavern in Florida. Find out what it was like to visit this world-class tourist destination and dive this prehistoric spring system.
Nothing compares to the thrill of diving to a helicopter, airplane, army car, and double-decker bus all in one dive. Don't miss this epic diving jungle in Wales.
Who says cold water diving can’t be filled with color? Plunge into Carnac, France and explore the bountiful anemone gardens, intricate macro life, and delicate fragility below the surface.
Backroll into to the cold water world of Portugal's Berlengas Island Natural Reserve. Located off the coast of Peniche, this underwater paradise will have you have you gurgling with excitement into your regulator.
With thrilling shore dives, an amazingly sunny climate and marine animals coming from the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean sea, it's no wonder scuba divers are seduced by the underwater world of Costa del Sol.
Bare 7mm thick elastek dry suit hood
Black scuba diving turtle fins
Mini blue scuba diving tank key ring with brass pick tool and o-rings
GoPro dual battery charger conveniently charges two HERO6 Black, HERO5 Black, or HERO camera batteries simultaneously
Bare drysuit drawstring scuba gear bag the perfect alternative for transporting a dry suit to-and-from the dive site
Capture amazingly smooth shake-free video with the GoPro Karma Grip
AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod and Bag with adjustable-height legs and rubber feet
Rechargeable Ikelite NiMH battery pack compatible with Ikelite’s DS125, DS160, and DS161 strobes.
Scuba diving 4ft neon yellow surface marker signal tube with “Diver Below” print
If you’re not quite ready for the expense of big lights, this little video light goes perfectly with any GoPro setup
Black Mares Cruise Roller Tauchen bag, perfect for scuba diving and traveling
Ikelite compact ball arm for quick release handle
Ikelite Canon EOS 100D Rebel SL1 underwater camera housing in white
Ikelite aluminum digital camera tray with dual handles
Capture amazingly smooth GoPro footage in the air with the GoPro Karma Drone
Canon Macro Lens EF-S 60mm f/2.8 USM – non Image Stabilised
Diving lens filter kit for GoPro HERO 5/6 which enhances colors for underwater video and photography conditions
SHOOT 6″ Underwater Dome Port for GoPro Hero 6/Hero 5/Hero(2018) Black Camera Diving Lens Hood Housing Photography with Waterproof Case Accessories
The Hydra 5000 WSRU is an all in one photo and dive light with wide, spot, red, and UV modes
Bare drysuit trek boots designed for rocky shore entries, boat decks, and boat ladders
Dry glove lock system that accommodates all hand sizes
Black Mares Dragon Scuba Diving BCD
Ikelite underwater macro lens casing is comprised of an acetyl body with glass front and can hold lenses of 4.37 diameter x 3 inches (111 x 76 mm)
Compact scuba diving finger spool with 150ft of white line and a 4-inch brass double-ended clip
Ikelite photography strobe DS161 with NiMH rechargeable battery pack
Compact underwater scuba diving hand reel with a 150ft of white line on the spool
Flexible Lightweight Portable Tripod for Projector DSLR Cameras and Go Pro
13-inch inflatable dive buoy with a 12 by 11-inch scuba diving flag surface marker
GoPro HERO6 Black Camera
DUI heavy duty dry suit gloves with yellow liners available in sizes: S, M, L, XL
Suunto SK-8 wrist compass with bungee straps, faster stabilization, and enhanced readability
Suunto Vyper Novo wrist scuba diving computer with USB
Bare SB System Mens Full Under-layer
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0 L USM Telephoto Zoom Lens
Ikelite TTL dual flash sync cord attaches two strobe’s to the underwater camera housing.
Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM FLD Large Aperture Standard Zoom Lens for Canon Digital DSLR Camera + 32GB Memory Card + Photo4Less Cleaning Cloth.