It’s not every day we get to see something no one has ever seen before. This unique yellow penguin was photographed by wildlife photographer Yves Adams on a two-month photo exhibition in the South Atlantic, and is something he had never seen before. Luckily, the penguin was close enough to the photographer for him to get some clear shots.
“I’d never seen or heard of a yellow penguin before,” Adams told the Kennedy News. “There were 120,000 birds on that beach and this was the only yellow one there. We were so lucky the bird landed right where we were. Our view wasn’t blocked by a sea of massive animals. Normally it’s almost impossible to move on this beach because of them all. It was heaven that he landed by us. If it had been 50 meters away we wouldn’t have been able to get this show of a lifetime.”
The yellow coloring is caused by leucism, a condition that results in a loss of pigmentation. “This is a leucistic penguin,” said Adams. “Its cells don’t create melanin anymore so its black feathers become this yellow and creamy color.” It is still unclear whether the penguin’s unique coloring affects his social standing, or whether it makes him more or less attractive to the female penguins in the group.
Researcher Daniel Thomas told Smithsonian Insider that “penguins use the yellow pigment to attract mates and we strongly suspect that the yellow molecule is synthesized internally. It’s distinct from any of the five known classes of avian plumage pigmentation and represents a new sixth class of feather pigment. As far as we are aware, the molecule is unlike any of the yellow pigments found in a penguin’s diet.”
Adams captured thousands of stunning shots during this expedition, which extended eight weeks beyond this exciting sighting, and has only just recently edited and uploaded them. If you’d like to view Adams’ full collection, check out his website, Instagram, Facebook, and 500px page.