Experts believe the penguin has leucism, a variety of conditions that cause partial pigmentation loss

November 27, 2020 01:56 PM
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Credit: JIMMY PATINO/PARQUE NACIONAL GALAPAGOS/AFP via Getty

Two tourists on a tour in the Galapagos Islands enjoyed a historic, one-of-a-kind highlight.

According to the Daily Mail, tour guide Jimmy Patino was showing two travelers around the waters near the Punta Vicente Roca site on Isabela Island, when he saw a bright spot. This shining beacon turned out to be a bird, but not just any bird. It was a rare white penguin.

Patino captured photos and videos of the unusual animal, which is believed to be a Galapagos penguin with leucism – a variety of conditions that causes partial pigmentation loss in a bird's feathers – and shared the assets with experts at the Galapagos National Park.

A release from the park obtained by La Prensa Latina, states that experts reviewed the guide's photos and believe that the bird is the first penguin with leucistic pigmentation spotted anywhere in Galapagos Islands in the archipelago's history.

"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," the release reads.

Experts cannot confirm the bird's unique color is caused by leucistic pigmentation since they have not been able to test the penguin.

Isabela Island, where the penguin was found,  is the largest island of the Galapagos archipelago. The Punta Vicente Roca site, where humans are not allowed to land, is a popular place to boat by and snorkel near because of the abundant wildlife.