Rare ‘blonde’ penguin spotted in Antarctica

Posted by Anita Froneman on 8 May 2020

It’s not unusual to see albinism in animals. This extremely rare light coloured penguin, however, is not albino, but actually has a condition called isabellinism. This is a mutation which prevents melanin from being produced in feathers, according to National Geographic. 

Read: Albinism in animals

Tourists on National Geographic’s ‘Journey to Antarctica’ saw one such ‘blonde’ penguin in a colony of chinstrap penguins at the edge of the South Shetland Islands.

According to a study done on isabellinism published in the journal Marine Ornithology, this condition leads to a ‘uniform lightening’ of the bird’s dark colors, that turns into grayish-yellow or pale brown.

While albinism occurs when an animal fails to produce any melanin at all throughout its entire body, isabellinism only prevents melanin from being produced in feathers.

‘Many species of penguins have a few rare individuals with this color pattern,’ penguin expert P. Dee Boersma of the University of Washington in Seattle said according to apsari.com. ‘Scientists have observed several species of penguins and the effect of isabellinism on penguins, and have found that gentoo penguins found throughout the Antarctic Peninsula often record the most cases.’

Take a look at this beautiful little creature:


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Image: Instagram

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