A Belgian landscape and wildlife photographer accidentally captured extremely rare images of a rare species of penguin on a remote island in South Georgia.
In December 2019, when this photographer led a two-month photographic expedition in the South Atlantic and stopped on an island in South Georgia to photograph a herd of over 120,000 king penguin children. And as he unloaded food and safety gear, Adams noticed an unusual sight he had never seen before: a single bright yellow penguin in a colony of around 120,000 penguins. Immediately he took out his camera and broke this special animal. Luckily for the photographers, the single penguin swam to the beach near the stopping group, so they had the perfect view to photograph it without being bothered by thousands of winged birds, amphibians and seals in the region.
King penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus), like the closely related emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri), are known to generally have black and white plumage with a yellowish-yellow stripe on the neck. However, this strange color of the penguin may be due to a genetic syndrome called leucism. Its cells no longer produce melanin, so its black feathers turn yellow and cream Unlike albinos, this penguin lacks only a few pigments, which gives it its distinctive color.
Penguins with unusual plumage are relatively rare, and it can sometimes be difficult to determine the cause of the rare coloration just by looking at it. Some unusual colors can be caused by injury, diet, or illness. But, in the penguin’s diet, there is absolutely no molecule that causes the yellow pigment in the feathers. Additionally, in a published study, scientists found that the yellow pigment in penguin feathers is chemically different from all other molecules believed to give color to feathers. To draw more precise conclusions, scientists need biochemical samples from this particular bird.
According to researcher Daniel Thomas, penguins use a yellow pigment to attract mates, however, with this particular yellow color of this penguin, researchers are still unaware that it will become extremely attractive.