Sat. Dec 15th, 2018

Rare but conspicuous: Your photos of white reindeer

A white reindeer in Finland Kaisa Siren/Visit Finland
This white reindeer in Finland was snapped in 2006

After a photo of an adorable white reindeer went viral this week, other people have shared their snaps of the animals.

Dr Nicholas Tyler, from the Centre for Saami Studies at the University of Tromso in Norway, told the BBC that white reindeer are rare.

However, he adds that they are “highly conspicuous”, especially in the summer months, which may go some way to explain why people are able to get so many great photographs of them.

White reindeer in Finland in February 2018 Sian Elizabeth / @sianelizabethtravel
This reindeer was spotted by photographer Sian Elizabeth in February 2018 in Inari, Finland

While some people refer to these animals as “albino”, it is likely these animals have a different condition.

As can be seen in these photos, the reindeer have white fur but do not lack pigment in their eyes.

Glen Jeffery, from the Institute of Ophthalmology at University College London, explains that the production of pigment in the skin and eyes are controlled independently.

This means that the animals do not suffer from the visual difficulties associated with albinism.

“For animals where pigment generation fails in the eye, the world becomes terribly bright… as light bounces around in the eye because it’s not absorbed by pigment.”

White reindeer in Mongolia Jerry Haigh
Jerry Haigh took this photograph while studying reindeer in northern Mongolia

Jerry Haigh is a professor of Large Animal Clinical Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. He has spent time studying the reindeer herds of Northern Mongolia.

He says that white reindeer are “quite common” among the herds cared for by the nomadic Dukha community.

White reindeer in Sweden Kristen Jayne

Kristen Jayne took this photo of a group of reindeer while travelling from Jokkmokk to Ostersund in Sweden, in 2017.

White reindeer came close to Kevin and his team Kevin Barta
Kevin Barta spotted this white reindeer while on holiday in the Lyngen Alps in the Arctic Circle

On his first trip to Norway, Kevin Barta spotted this white reindeer which was part of a larger group.

“The reindeer herd saw us and started to run,” he told the BBC, “the white reindeer came close so I got some good photos.”

A white reindeer and a woman in Finland Kaisa Sirén / Visit Finland
A domesticated white reindeer in Finland

All photographs belong to the copyright holders as marked.

White reindeer: Your photos

After a photo of an adorable white reindeer went viral this week , other people have shared their snaps of the animals. Dr Nicholas Tyler, from the Centre for Saami Studies at the University of Tromso in Norway, told the BBC that white reindeer are rare.

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