In the last 5 summers a white goose have been observed in between the
barnacle geese observed near the dogyard, just outside Longyearbyen.
The bird is in fact a leucistic barnacle goose. Leucistic birds lack all or some
pigmentation in the feathers, but they are not albinos. They have normal colored
eyes, unlike albinos and the condition does not necessarily affect all the birds’
The white geese are believed to have the same breeding and survival potential as
the normal barnacle geese. However their lifespan is estimated at only 2-3 yeas
(compares to 8-10 years for barnacle geese in general) as their unusual color
makes them more attractive to hunters and possibly also predators. However, the
light colored goose currently residing in Adventdalen have been observed for the
past 5 years and leucistic barnacle geese have been known to lived to at least
18 years of age.
Owen, M. and Skimmings, P. (1992). The occurrence and performance of leucistic
Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis. Ibis, 134 ,1, pp.22-26.
Leucistic barnacle goose, Svalbard. Photo Inge Bakkeland/