By Richa Noriega
Just in time for the month of love, a diver photographed a bright pink manta ray swimming in the waters off the islands of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
According to a report from National Geographic, a global nonprofit organization committed to exploring the planet earth, photographer Kristian Laine was freediving off an island near Australia’s Great Barrier Reef when he saw an 11-foot male reef manta ray with an unusual color.
The elusive pink ray has been seen fewer than 10 times since it was first spotted in 2015. It was named Inspector Clouseau, after the detective in the Pink Panther movies.
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Worlds only pink manta called Inspector Clouseau. What an amazing and absolutely unforgettable encounter that was. Stay tuned for more photos to come of this beautiful mantas little adventures at Lady Elliot Island . . . . . #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia #southerngreatbarrierreef #nikonaustralia #gbrmarinepark #australiangeographic #ladyelliotislandecoresort #underwaterphotography #ocean #oceanvision #discoverocean #ausgeo #qldparks #aquatech_imagingsolutions #madeofocean #freedive #natgeowild #natgeoyourshot #natgeoau #aussiephotos #ig_australia__ #natgeo #ourblueplanet #padi #australia_shotz #abcaustralia #oceanconservancy #underwater_is_life #snorkel.around.the.world #naturephotographer
“I had no idea there were pink mantas in the world, so I was confused and thought my strobes were broken or doing something weird,” Laine was quoted in a report by National Geographic.
Scientists with Australian research group Project Manta studied the color of the manta ray and have confirmed its color is real.
At first they thought its color was the result of a skin infection or diet, which is similar to how pink flamingos get their color, by eating tiny crustaceans.
But in 2016, Project Manta researcher Amelia Armstrong took a small skin biopsy of the famous animal and found out that the cause of its pink color is not diet or infection.
Project Manta research assistant Asia Haines said their leading theory is that the manta has a genetic mutation in its expression of melanin, or pigment.
“Understanding the origin of this genetic mutation may help inform us [about how the color evolved in mantas],” Haines was quoted in a report by National Geographic.
The fish cruises the waters around Lady Elliot Island and is the only known pink manta ray in the world, Nat Geo reported.