A Belgian wildlife photographer Yves Adams has captured a once-in-a-lifetime photo of what he believes is a “never before seen” yellow penguin. He captured this rare beautiful penguin in December 2019, when he was leading a two-month exhibition in South Atlantic.
Adams and his group made a stop on an island in South Georgia to take photos of a colony of over 120,000 king penguins.
While unloading some safety equipment and food onto Salisbury Plain, Adams noticed an unusual sight he had never seen before: a penguin with bright yellow plumage.
Adams told Kennedy News:
“I’d never seen or heard of a yellow penguin before. There were 120,000 birds on that beach and this was the only yellow one there.”
Fortunately, the unique penguin was very close to the group. The group had a perfect view of the yellow penguin, neither unobstructed by the sea of penguins or seals in the area.
“We were so lucky the bird landed right where we were. Our view wasn’t blocked by a sea of massive animals. Normally it’s almost impossible to move on this beach because of them all.”
“It was heaven that he landed by us. If it had been 50 meters away we wouldn’t have been able to get this show of a lifetime.”
Adams explained that the penguin’s unique color is due to a condition called leucism, which results in a loss of pigmentation.
“This is a leucistic penguin. Its cells don’t create melanin anymore so its black feathers become this yellow and creamy color.”
Scientists have found that the yellow pigment in penguin feathers is chemically distinct from all other molecules that are known to give color to feathers. The research was published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
Researcher Daniel Thomas told the Smithsonian Insider that Penguins usually use yellow pigment to attract mates. He suspects that the yellow molecule is synthesized internally.
“[It’s] distinct from any of the five known classes of avian plumage pigmentation and represents a new sixth class of feather pigment. As far as we are aware, the molecule is unlike any of the yellow pigments found in a penguin’s diet.”
However, in this fully yellow penguin, we are not sure whether the plumage makes the bird more attractive or more repulsive.
Image Credits: yves_adams/Instagram