Quito, Nov 26 (efe-epa).- A penguin with an apparent leucism, a rare condition in these animals, has recently been spotted on one of the Galapagos Islands, the Galapagos National Park reported Thursday.
A local naturalist guide first discovered it on Nov. 19 at the Punta Vicente Roca site, on the northern coastline of Isabela Island, while on a tour with a sailor and two foreign tourists.
Experts at the Galapagos National Park Directorate reviewed the guide’s photographs and believed that it could be a genetic condition known as leucism, which causes a partial loss of pigmentation in the animals’ plumage or fur, a statement said.
This syndrome differs from albinism because the animal “maintains the normal color of its eyes” and “they are also more resistant to sunlight.”
Galapagos penguins usually have a black head with two fine white lines from the eyes towards the chin, as well as a white chest separated at the neck by a black stripe.
However, the penguin discovered by the guide has a completely white plumage with some gray shades, according to the released photographs, making it the first one of its kind to ever be discovered by the National Park Directorate, which permanently monitors nesting areas to carry out species control and thus provide them with better survival conditions.
“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 press release said. .
La Isabela, with a population of about 2,200, is the largest island of the Galapagos archipelago and has a wide range of animals, including penguins, marine iguanas, boobies and giant tortoises.
Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978, the Galapagos are located about 1,000 kilometers west of the continental coast of Ecuador and have one of the most exclusive marine reserves on the planet.
On the archipelago, the Galapagos National Park Directorate and the Charles Darwin Foundation work in constant monitoring of the environment and the different species, among them the Galapagos penguin.
The endemic population of the islands belongs to the Spheniscus mendiculus species, the second smallest after the blue penguin, and weighs only about 2.5 kilograms. EFE-EPA