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Extremely rare WHITE penguins are spotted in the Galapagos Islands

Extremely rare WHITE penguins are spotted in the Galapagos Islands – believed to be the first in the island’s history

  • Guide Jimmy Patino filmed the unusual bird at the site of Punta Vicente Roca on Isabela Island while on a tour
  • The rare penguin with white plumage was seen quietly next to a lizard almost twice the size in the clip
  • The penguin’s species has not been officially confirmed, but it is believed to be a Galapagos penguin
  • The white color is probably caused by some form of leucistic pigmentation, which means that the feathers have no color

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An extremely rare white penguin has been spotted in the Galapagos Islands – believed to be the first in the islands’ history.

Guide Jimmy Patino filmed the unusual bird at the Punta Vicente Roca site on Isabela Island while touring two tourists earlier this month.

The rare penguin with white plumage was quietly spotted next to a lizard almost twice its size when the curious guide approached for a closer look.

The bird’s species has not been officially confirmed, but it is believed to be a Galapagos penguin – or Spheniscus mendiculus – endemic to the archipelago.

Galapagos penguins normally have a black head and two white lines running from their eyes to their chin. They also have a black stripe on their necks.

The white color of this penguin is probably caused by some form of leucistic pigmentation, which means that the feathers are missing with which the black color of penguins is associated.

An extremely rare white penguin has been spotted in the Galapagos Islands, believed to be the first of its kind seen in the region (photo)

Guide Jimmy Patino filmed the unusual bird (pictured) at the Punta Vicente Roca site on Isabela Island while touring two tourists earlier this month

Guide Jimmy Patino filmed the unusual bird (pictured) at the Punta Vicente Roca site on Isabela Island while touring two tourists earlier this month

Guide Jimmy Patino filmed the unusual bird (pictured) at the Punta Vicente Roca site on Isabela Island while touring two tourists earlier this month

Leucistic pigmentation – where feather color is lost – is sometimes caused by trauma, but is more often genetic.

The condition is different from albinism because if the bird suffers from leucism, the eyes and beak are normal in color.

A Galapagos National Park spokesman said it is the first time such an animal has been seen ‘in history’ of the archipelago.

They said, “Experts confirmed the guide’s version and believe this is a genetic condition known as leucism, which causes a partial loss of pigmentation in the plumage while maintaining normal eye color, differentiating them from albinos.”

The official statement, as reported in Local media, added: ‘In the Galapagos there have been cases of albinism or leucism in sharks, lizards, lobsters, finches, among others. This is the first record of a penguin with this condition. ‘

However, experts cannot say with certainty that leucistic pigmentation is the cause until proper tests are done.

The rare penguin with white plumage was quietly spotted next to a lizard almost twice its size as the curious guide approached for a closer look

The rare penguin with white plumage was quietly spotted next to a lizard almost twice its size as the curious guide approached for a closer look

The rare penguin with white plumage was quietly spotted next to a lizard almost twice its size as the curious guide approached for a closer look

The penguin's species has not been officially confirmed, but it is believed to be a Galapagos penguin - or Spheniscus mendiculus - endemic to the archipelago

The penguin's species has not been officially confirmed, but it is believed to be a Galapagos penguin - or Spheniscus mendiculus - endemic to the archipelago

The penguin’s species has not been officially confirmed, but it is believed to be a Galapagos penguin – or Spheniscus mendiculus – endemic to the archipelago

The white color is probably caused by some form of leucistic pigmentation, which means that the feathers are missing that penguins' black color is associated with.

The white color is probably caused by some form of leucistic pigmentation, which means that the feathers are missing with which the black color of penguins is associated.

The white color is probably caused by some form of leucistic pigmentation, which means that the feathers are missing with which the black color of penguins is associated.

A Galapagos National Park spokesman said it is the first time such an animal has been seen 'in history' of the archipelago. Pictured: the white penguin

A Galapagos National Park spokesman said it is the first time such an animal has been seen 'in history' of the archipelago. Pictured: the white penguin

A Galapagos National Park spokesman said it is the first time such an animal has been seen ‘in history’ of the archipelago. Pictured: the white penguin

Galapagos penguins (file image, photo) normally have a black head and two white lines running from their eyes to their chin. They also have a black stripe on their necks

Galapagos penguins (file image, photo) normally have a black head and two white lines running from their eyes to their chin. They also have a black stripe on their necks

Galapagos penguins (file image, photo) normally have a black head and two white lines running from their eyes to their chin. They also have a black stripe on their necks

La Isabela is home to a diverse selection of animals and is the largest of the Galapagos Islands.

In 1835, Charles Darwin visited the islands – which were a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978 – and later inspired the theory of evolution.

The Galapagos National Park issued a statement last month regarding the population of Galapagos penguins.

Environment and Water Minister Paulo Proano said: ‘The data from the latest census of penguins and flightless cormorants (Phalacrocorax harrisi) shows record numbers, showing a good state of their population.

“Let’s celebrate this great news and reaffirm that the actions of rangers and scientists on the islands are yielding positive results.”

They believe that reduced human activity due to the Covid-19 pandemic has been a factor in their increasing numbers.

The Galapagos penguins are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as endangered and the cormorant as vulnerable.

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