Penguins carry a rare genetic mutation that causes the darker feathers on the head, back and wings to turn white.
Tour guides discovered white penguins on Isabela, the largest island in the Galapagos archipelago, the Havana Times reported on November 27. It is most likely the Galapagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus), endemic to this archipelago. Unlike congeners with a black head, back and wings, it has a unique light coat color.
Experts believe it is possible that white penguins carry a rare genetic mutation called leucism. Leucism causes a lack of pigmentation, resulting in darker and shinier hair. Unlike albinos, animals with leucism always have the normal eye color.
The Galapagos Islands have been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since 1979. Leucism sharks, lizards, lobsters and sparrows have appeared on the Galapagos Islands. However, this is the first time that experts have discovered white penguins in this area.
The Galapagos Islands are home to many plant and animal species that are not found anywhere else in the world, including the Galapagos penguin. They are usually only 50cm tall, weigh 2.5kg and are one of the smallest penguins in the world. They are also the only penguins that live north of the equator.