In a sea of tuxedo penguins, one bird stands alone. A rare white penguin was recently spotted by tourists at the edge of one of the South Shetland Islands.
The initial reports sparked the interest of National Geographic, who just sent down a team of researchers to Antarctica to study and photograph the rare white penguin.
National Geographic reports that the penguin may look like an albino penguin, but it actually appears to have isabellinism, which dilutes the pigments of the bird’s feathers. But despite this condition, naturalist David Stephens says that the bird is perfectly healthy. Stevens said:
“Many wondered about this unusual bird’s chances of success. While odd coloration may make fishing a bit more difficult, leucistic birds are regularly found breeding normally.”
Here’s a video from National Geographic about the white penguin.
According to Penguin expert P. Dee Boersma of the University of Washington in Seattle, the white penguin may appear healthy but it may also be in danger. Boersma said that chinstrap penguins rely on their black feathers to hide themselves from predators in the water.
Boersma says that finding a white penguin is extremely rare because they normally get picked off by predators at a young age.