On a trip to a small island in South Georgia in December 2019, Yves Adams spotted an unusually bright creature bobbing through a sea of 120,000 king penguins. Whereas most of the flightless birds sported the typical tuxedo-like suit, one paraded around with yellow feathers and cream-colored feet.
Adams, who frequently documents landscapes and wildlife around the world, is believed to be the first photographer to capture images of the rare penguin, which he spotted while unloading food and safety equipment. “We all went crazy when we realised. We dropped all the safety equipment and grabbed our cameras,” the Belgian photographer says. “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.”
The atypical coloring is due to leucism, a condition that results in the loss of melanin, which turns the black feathers and feet into a lighter hue. In 2013, researchers learned that penguins’ yellow pigment is not derived from food but rather is chemically distinct from the other compounds that color their plumes. The bright feathers are used to attract mates.
See Adams’ shots from his Atlantic expedition, in addition to more that span a wide array of locations like Greenland, the Galapagos Islands, and the Philippine Sea, on his site and Instagram. (via PetaPixel)