A rare almost completely white penguin spotted and filmed in Antarctica

Image by Hugo Alejandro Harros Guerra

Rare penguin of feathers almost all white was recently spotted and filmed in Antarctica. This is a female Gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua), also known as common pygoscelidand was spotted by photographer Hugo Alejandro Harros Guerra, one of only 14 people who were present near the former Chilean research station “Gabriel Gonz├ílez Videla”, located in Paradise Bay, where this colony lives. The penguin’s unusual white color is most likely due to a special and rare genetic condition known as leucism.

Leucism, unlike albinism, is a genetic anomaly that it only partially inhibits melanin productionthe dark pigment responsible for the color skin, hair, eyes and feathers. It could be defined as a species incomplete albinismevidenced in this case by the fact that in this individual the beak a dark eyes they still retain some of the usual coloration typical of the species, while an albino’s eyes usually are red or pink. Although this is a rare sight, However, this is not the first time that “anomalous” individuals appear in this colony.

As early as 2021, in fact, Richard Sidey and Aliscia Young they managed to film another leucistic individual, which also happened in 2020 and several times in previous years as well. According to researchers studying this particular colony, there would already be an individual afflicted with the same condition seen regularly for about eight years: it could be the same penguin seen a few days ago or a relative. It is difficult to determine with certainty, but frequent observations may also indicate that this genetic condition exists in this colony especially widespread.

Moreover, scientists estimate that in general only one in every 20,000 individuals was born suffering from this particular condition, which is anything but a bargain. In fact, we have told you several times about animal sightings with abnormal, unusual color or completely albino. In nature, however, a lack of pigment often increases the risk of skin tumors and burns, and almost always makes animals more visible to the eyes of predators and especially less recognizable individuals of their own species.

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Another leucistic Gentoo penguin spotted a few years ago in Antarctica

Maybe such a bright penguin can disguise yourself better however, it will definitely not be easy for her among the completely white Antarctic landscape when she is on land be able to reproduce. All peculiarities that characterize the plumage of the species, such as e.g black parts of the back, head and the wings, in such a pale individual are not clearly visible and therefore could deter a potential suitorwho may not even recognize this penguin as a member of their own species.

However, the last word did not come. Nature has often shown us that it can overcome itself any variety and we all hope this white female Gentoo penguin can do just that to be able to survive and reproduce same.

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