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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

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Rare White Penguin

In a sea of atramentous and white penguins waddling on Antarctica’s Aitcho Islands, National Geographic Explorers spotted an acutely rare, about all-white Chinstrap penguin this week.

This rare all-white Chinstrap penguin stands out against his friends as he takes his morning waddle around Antarctica.

The unusual bird was photographed by naturalist David Stephens during a nature expedition to the Aitcho Islands. Chinstrap penguins' normal black-and-white colouring provides them with camouflage while they dive for fish.

Rare: The condition known as leucism only occurs in around 1 in 146,000 penguins

The condition which causes the whiteness is known as leucism. It differs from albinism which is a total lack of skin pigment.

Mr Stephen, who works aboard Lindblad Expeditions' National Geographic Explorer ship, wrote in the daily expedition report: 'At the water’s edge stood a leucistic Chinstrap.

'This bird was whitish, but not quite an albino. Instead, it had pigmented eyes and a washed-out version of a Chinstrap’s normal pattern.

'Many wondered about this unusual bird’s chances of success. While odd coloration may make fishing a bit more difficult, leucistic birds are regularly found breeding normally.'

Dyan deNapoli, a penguin expert and author of 'The Great Penguin Rescue, said the rate of leucism in Chinstrap penguins is about 1 in 146,000.

He added: 'It is a fairly rare phenomenon. When I was in Antarctica, I never saw one, and I saw a lot of penguins.'

Lindblad Expeditions is a travel company which works in partnership with National Geographic, providing trips to both poles.

Spokeswoman Patty Disken-Cahill said: 'Expedition photography is a big component of our expeditions.

'The photography that comes out of our ships is pretty spectacular.'

For more albino animals click here.

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