For the first time in history, a penguin with yellow feathers has been discovered on South Georgia Island. He was spotted by Belgian photographer Yves Adams, who arrived on the island to capture the life of 120,000 king penguins. The birds swam to the shore when the man tried to settle down in a convenient location for shooting. He noticed a yellow penguin and immediately rushed to photograph him among ordinary individuals with black and white plumage. He managed to take several successful pictures. After a few days, journalists began to call the photographer to find out as much information as possible about the bird. And this is not surprising because this is the first time in history when a person managed to see a yellow penguin. Because what the found individual is so different from others, it is already known.
What color are the penguins?
An unusual penguin was reported in the Daily Mail. As a rule, penguins are painted in black and white. But there are also more colorful types. For example, king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) have yellow spots on the head and breast. It is to this species that the found individual belongs. According to photographer Yves Adams, it is a great luck that the penguin came out of the water near him. There were about 120,000 birds on the beach, so if this individual was at least 50 meters away, an amazing meeting might not have happened.
What is leucism?
The unusual coloration of the penguin’s feathers is associated with leucism. So it is customary to call a genetic mutation that stops the formation of melanin and all other pigments in feathers that are responsible for hair color. Sometimes leucism makes the color uneven and the animal has a speckled body. But in the case of this penguin, the mutation changed color completely. In no case should leucism be confused with albinism. The fact is that albinism affects only melanin, while with leucism, pigment cells are completely absent.
King penguins are in many ways similar to emperor penguins, but they are smaller in size and have a brighter color. They grow up to a maximum of 1 meter and have a dark back and white belly. Until 1918, king penguins were often hunted. This led to the fact that on some islands, their population declined sharply. But thanks to protective methods, the number of individuals returned to normal and at the moment they are not threatened.
Why was the largest iceberg in the world dangerous?
However, recently the penguins of South Georgia Island were in great danger. In August 2020, the world’s largest iceberg with an area of 5,800 kilometers began to move towards this piece of land. Scientists worried that if the ice block did not change its route, the penguins would be trapped and unable to get food. This could lead to the death of all 120,000 penguins, because there was no plan to rescue them. An iceberg on the island’s territory could get stuck there for as long as 10 years.
Fortunately, satellite imagery recently showed that a huge iceberg has split into several pieces. In early 2021, the four remaining units began to sail in different directions and eventually passed the island sideways. Thanks to a lucky coincidence, the king penguins survived. And this is great news because these creatures live only in strictly defined places on our planet. Apart from South Georgia Island, they can only be found in the South Sandwich Islands, Heard Island, and a couple of other places. There are about 1 million pairs of king penguins around the world.
The found penguin is far from the only animal with unnatural yellow body color. In 2020, an animal similar to the Pokemon Pikachu was found in Australia. In fact, it turned out to be a fox-shaped possum (Trichosurus vulpecula), in whose body a mutation associated with the pigment melanin also occurred. Its unusual coloration made it more visible to predators, but it was taken under protection. At one time, the news became very popular – you can look at the unusual possum at this link.