Unique yellow penguin captured on camera for first time in incredible image

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A photographer has captured a once-in-a-lifetime image of what is thought to be a unique yellow penguin.

Wildlife photographer Yves Adams said he spotted the “never before seen” bird among his more ordinary contemporaries.

The Belgian professional snapper was leading a two-month expedition in the South Atlantic back in December 2019 when they stopped on an island in South Georgia to photograph a colony of over 120,000 king penguins.

Mr Adams was unloading equipment moments after the group arrived when he spotted the unusual creature – who stood out among the 120,000 king penguins due to its amazing bright plumage.

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.

“We were so lucky the bird landed right where we were. 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 metres away we wouldn’t have been able to get this show of a lifetime.”

The leucistic penguin’s cells don’t create melanin so its black feathers become yellow.

Scientists have found that the yellow pigment in penguin feathers is chemically distinct from all other molecules that are known to give colour to feathers.

Researcher Daniel Thomas told the Smithsonian Insider : “Penguins use the yellow pigment to attract mates and we strongly suspect that the yellow molecule is synthesised internally.

“[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.”