Angler reels in blue catfish with ‘odd coloring’ from Missouri River. What is it?

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A Missouri angler reeled in a memorable catch recently because the blue catfish he caught wasn’t so blue.

Robert Lee of Mokane was fishing on the Missouri River when he caught a 32-pound blue catfish with “odd coloring,” according to the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The fish’s unusual appearance was from a condition named leucism, resulting in the partial loss of pigmentation. Animals with leucism have white, pale or patchy coloring in their skin, hair, fur or feathers.

“It’s likely an inherited condition and other than the odd color, animals with leucism are basically normal,” the Missouri Department of Conservation posted on Facebook.

By contrast, albino animals are white or pink all over with pink eyes and no ability to produce color, according to conservation officials.

Last month, an angler caught and released an albino blue catfish on the Missouri River. Notice the difference?

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This particular catfish was an especially rare catch because it was an estimated 8 to 10 years old, officials said. Typically, albino wildlife doesn’t survive because they stick out to predators.

According to a 2005 Missouri Department of Conservation article, some of the state’s conservation hatcheries had seen albino catfish produced in up to one in 20,000 fish.

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