Pigment error makes King penguin yellow

Experts believe the yellow penguin won’t survive long, being an easy target for both leopard seals and orca whales

Text and drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

On an expedition to the island of South Georgia ( Antarctica ) the Belgian photographer Yves Adams ( See Drawn journalism story) took photos of a rare yellow variant of the King penguin ( Aptenodytes patagonicus ) never photographed before – and now experts discus what the strange yellow variant can have be caused by.

The yellow King penguin does have some color, so it is not an albino. But still something went wrong, as the melanin that color the other black and yellow penguins seems to be missing more or less here.

Allison Schultz, curator of ornithology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles tells in a story in Audubon National Society, that she thinks the yellow King penguin has what is called ” leucism” (Vikipedia link ) A condition where the melanin color production not is absent, but not functioning 100% either.

To know for sure it would be needed to capture the penguin, an extremely hard thing to do as it fast disappeared among thousand of other penguins on the remote island.

And experts fear it might soon loose its life, as its colors will make it stand out as an easy targets for some of the main predators of King penguins: Orca whales and Leopard seals.

yellow-king-penguin-Aptenodytes patagonicus-leucism - Drawn journalism by Frits Ahlefeldt
Dw00457 – The yellow king penguin – Research watercolor sketch by Frits Ahlefeldt
Watercolor illustration of King penguin
dw00458-king-penguin-Aptenodytes patagonicus-frits-ahlefeldt – research watercolor sketch
Head of yellow-king-penguin-Aptenodytes patagonicus-leucism drawn journalism by Frits Ahlefeldt
Yellow king penguin Research watercolor sketch by Frits Ahlefeldt

Related story – Sketch of the situation where Yves Adams photographed the yellow king penguin here

More drawn journalism watercolor posts

Keywords: biodiversity, nature, wildlife, penguins, birds, drawnjournalism, visual journalism, watercolor, drawing, news, journalistik, tegnetjournalistik, visuel journalistik, visualjournalism drawn journalism

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