Birds of a feather often flock collectively—however not within the case of a uncommon “white” mutant penguin, noticed Monday in a chinstrap penguin colony in Antarctica. (Watch video of the pale penguin.)
The “blonde” penguin, seen on the fringe of one of many South Shetland Islands (map), “astonished” vacationers on a Nationwide Geographic Journey to Antarctica cruise, naturalist David Stephens, of the Lindblad Expeditions cruise firm, wrote on his weblog.
(The Nationwide Geographic Society owns Nationwide Geographic Information and Nationwide Geographic Expeditions, which operated the cruise in affiliation with Lindblad Expeditions.)
Although the penguin appears to be like like an albino, the chicken truly seems to have isabellinism, mentioned penguin professional P. Dee Boersma of the College of Washington in Seattle.
The situation is a genetic mutation that dilutes pigment in penguins’ feathers, in accordance with a 2009 research on isabellinism revealed within the journal Marine Ornithology.
This ends in a “uniform lightening” of a chicken’s darkish colours, turning the animal a grayish yellow or pale brown, the research mentioned.
(See “Three-fourths of Huge Antarctic Penguin Colonies to Disappear?”)
“Isabelline” Penguins Not Albino
Although they technically signify separate situations, the phrases “isabellinism” and “leucism” are generally used interchangeably. Leucism is a mutation that stops any melanin in any respect from being produced in feathers. Albinism happens when an animal produces no melanin in any respect all through its total physique.
(See footage of albino animals.)
“Many species of penguins have just a few uncommon people with this coloration sample,” Boersma mentioned by way of e-mail.
As an example, scientists have noticed probably the most circumstances of isabellinism in gentoo penguins, that are discovered all through the Antarctic Peninsula. Magellanic penguins, which dwell on South American coasts, appear to have the bottom incidences of the situation. (See penguin footage.)
Within the ocean, penguins’ black backs camouflage the birds from each predator and prey swimming above, so Boersma suspects isabellinism would have an effect on the South Shetland chicken’s survival, though there are not any research on the topic, she mentioned.
Certainly, aboard the Nationwide Geographic Explorer cruise ship, “many questioned about this uncommon chicken’s possibilities of success,” Lindblad’s Stephens wrote.
On the intense facet, “whereas odd coloration might make fishing a bit harder,” he mentioned, such “birds are repeatedly discovered breeding usually.”
Extra: “Mutant, All-Black Penguin Discovered” >>