A nearly all-white penguin was spotted at the Gabriel Gonzalez Videla Base in the Chilean Antarctica. The female penguin was seen chilling in the icy climate in early January.
The penguin is from the Gentoo species, which usually has black and white feathers, but the one seen on the 4th of January was almost entirely white.
“It is an animal with leucism, so while the pigment is present, it is not present in the whole animal,” veterinarian Diego Penaloze said.
“These cases are seen in different species, where they have pigment, but it is not a universal pigment, so we can talk about leucism, which is different from albinism, where there is a complete lack of pigment,” he added.
“Here at (the base) Gabriel Gonzalez Videla, we are 14 people who live in the middle of a colony of Gentoo penguins. There are hundreds of them, it’s incredible,” photographer Hugo Alejandro Harros Guerra, who spotted the penguin, said.
“Every day, there is something different to see. Every day, Antarctica and this beautiful place surprise us with something different,” he added.
White penguin easy target
Leucistic penguins are pretty rare, mainly because the typical black and white coloring of penguins is crucial for camouflage while diving for fish. “In this case, being an animal with a mostly white body, it can make it easier for a predator to hunt her,” Penaloze said.
“That is why cases of leucism are also very rare, because, in addition to being rare genes that are rarely seen, they are also animals that are very exposed, in the case of penguins, to being eaten more easily by a predator.”
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