Yves Adams led a two-month photographic expedition across the South Atlantic when he decided to stop at a beach in South Georgia
Black and white tuxedos are the usual clothing in the world of penguins, until one of them breaks the dress code with a yellow coat.
A wildlife photographer captured footage of the rare penguin on a remote island in South Georgia in December 2019 and only recently posted the photos on social media.
Yves Adams led a two-month photographic expedition across the South Atlantic when he decided to stop at a beach in South Georgia.
“I had never seen or heard of a yellow penguin before. There were 120,000 birds on this beach and this was the only yellow one, “Adams told Kennedy News and Media.
“We all went crazy when we realized what it was all about. We dumped all the safety equipment and grabbed our cameras, ”admits the photographer.
King penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus), just like their closely related emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri), usually have a black and white coat with a yellowish-golden collar. Yellow pigments are “unique to penguins,” although not all species have them, according to the Australian Antarctic Program.
This particular penguin appears to have retained its yellow feathers but lost its dark ones, which are usually colored by a black-brown pigment known as melanin.
Unusually feathered penguins are relatively rare, and it can sometimes be difficult to identify the cause of rare flowers by observation alone. Unusual staining can be due to injury, diet or disease, but many cases are due to mutations in the bird’s genes.
Such mutations can be caused, for example, by “melanistic” penguins, whose typically white parts are black, and “albinist” penguins, which do not have melanin and are therefore white.
Adams told Kennedy News that the yellow bird has a genetic disease known as leukemia, in which only part of the melanin is lost.
Dee Boersma, a biologist and professor at the University of Washington, agrees. But there are experts who believe this is not true.
“I wouldn’t call the bird leucistic because the penguin seems to lack all the melanin,” said Kevin McGraw, an ecologist at Arizona State University.
“It looks albino in terms of missing all the melanin in its plumage, legs and eyes,” McGraw said. However, “we will need samples of feathers for biochemical tests if we are to unequivocally document whether melanin is present,” he said.
“Animals can be albino, but still have non-melanin pigment,” the expert added.
The penguin has lost the carotenoid or yellow-orange-red pigment in its beak and the melanin pigment in its feathers, while retaining the yellow pigment in its feathers. So the genetic and cellular techniques for some pigments were killed, while others were not. “I’m not aware of many other images or birds like this. I am fascinated by this photo “, McGraw is categorical.
Such strangely colored birds are rare, and for good reason.
“Penguins use body color and plumage for a variety of functions, including partner selection, camouflage or sun protection,” McGraw said. “It is possible that such color deviations will affect both survival and reproduction,” he added.