Spotting the extremely rare bird, according to the photographer, was like winning the lottery of nature.
Even for those who photograph nature on a daily basis, there’s always an extra sense of awe to be found. Yves Adams, a Belgian wildlife photographer, told The Guardian that seeing a rare yellow and white bird was like “winning nature’s lottery.” His surprise finding in late February in Antarctica caused quite a stir among naturalists all around the world.
When Adams and his colleagues attempted to land their fleet of rubber boats, they were on a two-month trip to the South Georgia peninsula and the South Sandwich Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, according to Adams. Their options were restricted to a one-kilometer stretch overrun with “thousands of seals and hundreds of thousands of penguins, so we were lucky to locate a location on land” due to ferocious waves and heavy winds.
Adams was transfixed by a group of King penguins swimming by from left to right, according to The Guardian. However, catching something yellow in the corner of his eye, he fixed his binoculars “to see an odd pale penguin among the jumble of creatures.” He and his colleagues were unsure about its breed, so they stood around watching it as Adams clicked away.
“Just in front of us, a yellow penguin swam to shore. It put on a show, flinging water from its feathers, walking across the dunes, and entering a King penguin colony “he stated “The seashore is teeming with wildlife. We can’t wander in or disturb the animals because seals will devour us alive. And you have to work rapidly while keeping a 360-degree view of your surroundings. So we’re fortunate that this bird landed where it did.”
According to the Guardian, the expedition team spoke with Hein van Grouw, curator of the Department of Life Sciences at the UK Natural History Museum, who speculated that the penguin may be a “ino-bird” or a “similar mutation.” While they do have a little patch of yellow on their necks, King penguins are predominantly black and white, giving them that distinct “tuxedo” look. Van Grouw wrote, “This tinge of yellow reaches much farther beneath the black than you can perceive.” Melanin deficiency “becomes lighter in color [so] you can see the yellow through it,” according to the study.
The discovery of the rare penguin has elated wildlife specialists. “The fact that the penguin photographed looks to be an adult is confirmation of these species’ survival skills,” according to The Guardian. “‘Contrary to common assumption, most aberrant coloured birds live well in the wild,” adds Van Grouw.
Adams expressed his delight on Instagram, writing: “These photos were picked up by the press, and the phone hasn’t stopped ringing since. We appear to be in severe need of some soothing yellow news! Thank you everyone so much for your lovely messages!”
Proof that we should focus our attention on strange and amazing nature anytime we want to feel better!