Gold coloured Royal Penguin

Unique Gold Coloured Penguin

Where and When

The year is 1958, scene Macquarie Island. On the beach amongst all the other one stood out: a gold coloured Royal Penguin. I brought him back to the huts. I tried to feed him, but had nothing he wanted. His colouring made him more visible, both to predators and prey. But he had survived.

a royal penguin lightly golden colored, no black

There were millions of Royal penguins (Eudyptes schlegeli) breeding on Macquarie Island, all of standard colouring. See photograph from 1958 at Hurd Point. The grey mass on the promontory is breeding pairs! At the time I reckoned a quarter of a million, but ANARE says today half a million. It has apparently been classified as "Vulnerable": perhaps prematurely. "Justification: Although this species has a large population which is currently thought to be stable, it is confined to a single location when breeding and as such it is prone to the effects of human activities or stochastic events within a very short time period in an uncertain future, and is thus capable of becoming Critically Endangered or even Extinct in a very short time period. It is consequently classified as Vulnerable." iucnred

a quarter of a million Royal penguins in the distance a macaroni penguin amongst the royals

This photograph shows a black faced penguin, a Macaroni (Eudyptes chrysolophus), probably a transient amongst the Royals. Perhaps the same species.

My penguin was light golden in colour.

A US ship visited at this point. I have no record of name of ship or its purpose. There was, as I remember it, a biologist/naturalist aboard who was interested in the penguin. It was killed, skinned--or so I believe, I was not witness to this, was not consulted, even though I considered it "my penguin"--and the skin taken to some museum or such

I wonder if there has been any others like it. I wonder too if it would have been accepted by the others and found a mate, and if so, if the genes would have been perpetuated, and that the killing meant that, like lonesome George (the tortoise), it was the last of its kind. A shame, really. It seems to be totally unique.

Comparison Penguins: Albinism, Leucistic, Isabellism

A national geographic site (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/01/120112-white-penguin-albino-antarctica-animals-science-blonde/) speaks of a whitish penguin, and says 'On the bright side, "while odd coloration may make fishing a bit more difficult," he said, such "birds are regularly found breeding normally."' But this site says these birds had isabellism. "'Though the penguin looks like an albino, the bird actually appears to have isabellinism, said penguin expert P. Dee Boersma of the University of Washington in Seattle." And the colour is white, or grey.

See the excellent video of a whitish penguin on http://www.expeditions.com/daily-expedition-reports/153224. Here it is called leucistic. My bird is clearly albino (see the red eye), but with that golden tinge, as the photo shows.Barbara Wienecke(@aad.gov.au) says that "Albinism is the absence of all melanin regardless of type". The unusualness extends to the front, which is golden brown instead of pure white. She notes also that "this unusual penguin also has rather pale eyes." This penguin still appears to be MOST unusual.

ANARE has on line what does seem to be "my" penguin--in a photograph from Harry Knox (whose hand it is I think in my photograph). The poor penguin looks in very bad shape here--I would have released it to the wild

The report from the Daily Telegraph, (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/antarctica/1575073/Rare-albino-penguin-sighting-in-Antarctica.html) also shows a penguin whose black coat is low in melanin and comes out greyish. It again is absolutely NOT golden!!

Apparently, there may also be true albino penguins, who are white, with pink eyes and pink feet. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/2572205.stm). Again, absolutely NOT my penguin!!

I wonder if the skin still exists. ANARE took a copy of my slide in 1959, and I expect still have it. But I have never heard further. This site has a leucistic rockhopper penguin from the Falklands, which is somewhat similar. But my penguin is an albino penguin, and they have eitheer lost my slide or do not think it significant.

Anyone know more? You can email me at webmaster@stleibowitz.org.