Not a Normal Penguin

Jordan MacLean

A rare white penguin was spotted in Antarctica on Monday, January 9. David Stephens, who was aboard the Lindblad Expeditions’ National Geographic Explorer ship, photographed the penguin that lacks the usual black and white coloring of penguins. At the water’s edge of the Aitcho Islands stood the leucistic Chinstrap penguin. A leucistic bird means that they have reduced pigmentation, different from albinism which is a lack of skin pigmentation.

 Stephens wrote in the ship’s daily expedition report that “This bird was whitish, but not quite an albino. Instead, it had pigmented eyes and a washed-out version of a Chinstrap’s normal pattern.”

 Penguin experts worry about the chances a white penguin has in fishing and living since the usual coloring of a penguin serves as a camouflage that aids penguins in fishing. It’s unusual to find a penguin without the standard black and white.

 Dylan deNapoli, penguin expert and author of “The Great Penguin Rescue” said to find a white Chinstrap penguin is about 1 in 146,000. He added that when he was in Antarctica he never saw one and he saw a lot of penguins. “It’s a rare phenomenon.” deNapoli says of finding the flightless bird.