A photographer has captured a jaw-dropping photo of what he believes is a “never before seen” penguin, proving that nature is nothing short of wild.
Usually donning a “tuxedo-style” look, this rare penguin has a unique yellow coloring.
In Dec. 2019, landscape and wildlife photographer Yves Adams was on a two-month trip in the South Atlantic when the group made a stop to photograph over 120,000 king penguins, hitting the wildlife lottery.
While on the island in South Georgia, Adams noticed an unusual sight he had never seen before: a penguin with bright yellow markings.
“I’d never seen or heard of a yellow penguin before,” the photographer tells Kennedy News. “There were 120,000 birds on that beach and this was the only yellow one there.”
Wildlife Photographer Gets Up Close & Personal With Rare Penguin
Luckily for the group, the penguin landed on the beach close to the group, allowing them to have an up-close look at the bird.
“We were so lucky the bird landed right where we were,” the photographer says.
“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 penguin’s coloring isn’t a coincidence, it’s due to a condition called leucism, which results in a loss of pigmentation.
“This is a leucistic penguin,” Adams said. “Its cells don’t create melanin anymore so its black feathers become this yellow and creamy color.”
According to scientists, the yellow pigment is chemically unique from all other molecules known to give color to the penguin.
“Penguins use the yellow pigment to attract mates and we strongly suspect that the yellow molecule is synthesized internally,” researcher Daniel Thomas told the Smithsonian Insider. “[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.”
However, it’s unclear whether its distinctive feathers make the bird more or less attractive to its potential mates.
During his journey, Adams captured thousands of photos, which lasted eight weeks after the rare sighting. It’s safe to say, witnessing a yellow penguin is a once-in-a-lifetime moment Adam will never forget.