Yves Adams was on an expedition back in 2019 when he chanced upon the most defining work of his career.
In what's an incredible feat, a wildlife photographer has captured a picture of a rare yellow penguin. Yves Adams, a Belgium-based wildlife and landscape photographer, shared stunning pictures of the penguin that has since broadened the imagination of millions of people on the internet. A look at the pictures and you'll realize that how unlike its black-and-white tuxedoed penguins it is. Typically, the most yellow a penguin has is via the small patches on either side of the head, a streak on the feather crests, and on the brow or the beak. However, the one captured by Adams has a white body, yellow head, pink beak, and feather.
Posting the images on Instagram, Adams added: "Winning nature’s lottery with seeing the most beautiful King penguin and being able to take pictures! While unpacking our rubber boats merely after landing on a remote beach on the island of South-Georgia, this leucistic King penguin walked up straight to our direction in the middle of chaos full of Sea elephants and Antarctic fur seals, and thousands of other King penguins. How lucky could I be!" The photographer chanced upon this unique penguin while on a two-month-long photo exhibition in the South Atlantic back in December 2019.
Speaking to Peta Pixel about his rare find, he said: "I’d never seen or heard of a yellow penguin before. There were 120,000 birds on that beach and this was the only yellow one there.” As luck would have it, the penguin landed right by the beach where the group was. They got an unobstructed view of the thousands of penguins as well as the seals. “We were so lucky the bird landed right where we were," the photographer said. "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."
As per National Geographic, the penguin was suffering from a condition called leucism, which is basically a mutation that prevents any melanin at all from being produced in their feathers. This condition is quite different from albinism, in which animals produce no melanin throughout their entire body. P. Dee Boersma, a penguin expert, at the University of Washington said: "Many species of penguins have a few rare individuals with this color pattern." The ones fortunate enough to be captured on Adams' telephoto lenses were among of those. But, there's a major survivalist implication in the yellow guy's case as it sticks out as the odd one and becomes readily visible to predators. However, Boersma is of the impression that this necessarily isn't the case with the penguin.
Check out this leucistic king penguin I saw in Salisbury Plain South Georgia last December. Not an albino, there is still some pigment. Its back was nearly the exact same colour as uncooked chicken. What do you think? Cute or creepy? 🐧 #penguin pic.twitter.com/WtsIlvfLsU— Samantha McBeth, birds, botany... boreal biomes (@lady_mcbeth_) July 14, 2020
According to Daniel Thomas, a fellow at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, the yellow penguin's defining feature may help him become popular among the opposite sex. Thomas was a lead author of a research paper which conducted studies on the yellow pigment in the feathers of penguins and said birds with red, yellow, or orange plumage are so because of their diet. Explaining the study Thomas and his team carried out by using Raman spectroscopy, he said, "At its very essence Raman spectroscopy is a study of the way light and matter interact, and very specific interactions tell us about the chemistry of a sample.” He added, “As far as we are aware, the molecule is unlike any of the yellow pigments found in a penguin’s diet."