Rare White Platypus Discovered by UNE Researchers

A rare white platypus has been discovered by UNE researchers working to conserve endangered freshwater turtles in the New England region. We caught up with Lou Streeting, a PHD candidate at UNE and one of the people who discovered the platypus, nicknamed Bloop, to talk about her incredible experience.

Although Bloop is white, the platypus is not albino. Instead, Bloop is leucistic, a condition that causes pigment loss in fur, skin, or feathers, but that does not affect eyes, unlike albinism.

Lou explains that this condition, much like albinism, is a genetic one.

“Any type of hypopigmentary conditions are genetic. Different types of conditions, you know, manifest in different ways and have different genetic backgrounds. Hypopigmentary conditions can occur across all animal groups. They are reasonably rare in mammals.”

Since the 1800s, there has only been 12 other sightings of white platypuses, with the first one being in 1835.

Although Lou and her team are working on the conservation of Bell’s turtles, they’ll be keeping an eye out for Bloop.

“We will be keeping an eye out now to see if we can see any more occurrences in those areas. We actually observed Bloop over a two year period, a little longer than a two year period actually. So it’s good to see that even though he’s quite distinct, you know, he stands out. He’s doing really well in his environment.”

Image courtesy of Lou Streeting.