Saturday, October 30, 2010

White penguin spotted at St Croix

White penguin spotted at St Croix

Lerenzo Francis

EASY TO SPOT ... The leucistic penguin on St Croix Island stands out among its normally coloured fellows.

A PREDOMINANTLY white jackass penguin has been spotted on St Croix Island off Port Elizabeth.
It has a condition called leucism which reduces the production of all types of skin pigment, unlike albinism, which only affects melanin production.
The problem starts in the egg during the development of the embryo. The condition can affect humans as well as animals.
The penguin was first spotted by Lloyd Edwards and Dr Lorien Pichegru, co-founders of the Penguin Research Project, during the molting season last year.
Pichegru said the condition was not harmful to the penguin.
Edwards said he was surprised the penguin was still alive, as sharks would usually attack different-coloured ones.
The penguin has returned this year to moult again. It will take three weeks for the moulting process to be complete.
Pichegru spotted the penguin in the water last Wednesday and Edwards searched for it the next day and took photos of it.
“It was exciting. We saw it twice. I have never seen one before,” Pichegru said.
“I have been going to the island for 20 years now, and you never know what you are going to see,” Edwards said.


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