A rare bright-yellow turtle was rescued by forest officials in eastern India’s Balasore Village on Sunday July 19. Now, the shelled reptile, which looks more like a lemon, is garnering worldwide media attention.
The turtle was spotted by locals from Sujanpur Village, located 196 kilometers from Bhubaneswar in the state of Odisha, before being handed over to the forest department after they were informed about the reptile, Reuters reported.
Wildlife officials believe the turtle’s yellow hue is due to albinism—a rare genetic condition that inhibits the production of pigment that gives animals their color. Albinos can be found among a wide range of animals, and in humans. It affects skin, scales, fur, and feathers, as well as the eyes and hair.
“The whole shell and the body of the rescued turtle is yellow. This is a rare turtle, I have never seen one like this,” wildlife warden Bhanoomitra Acharya was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Although many albinos can appear white, some reptiles, such as this turtle, may appear yellow, because they can still produce pigments other albinos cannot.
“One such aberration was recorded by locals in Sindh few years back,” noted another official, Susanta Nanda, on a Twitter post. Nanda shared a video of the turtle swimming in a small container.
Another post shows the curious reptile up close. “Mark the pink eyes, one indicative feature of albinism,” Nanda commented. Many Twitter users responded that they had never seen a yellow turtle before.
Another rare turtle specimen, a soft-shelled trionychidae turtle, was caught by fishermen at Deuli Dam in the district of Mayurbhanj in Odisha, ANI reported. These turtles can weigh over 30 kilograms (approx. 66 pounds) and live up to 50 years, the forest department said, and can be found in Africa, North America, and Asia. The rare species was later returned to the dam.
Turtles are under the Wildlife Protection Act and are considered endangered.
Reuters contributed to this report.