Amazing Photographs Of The World's Only Pink Manta Ray

Kristian Laine, a freediver and underwater photographer, was photographing at Lady Elliot Island on the Great Barrier Reef when he came across a rare manta with a rose-colored bottom.

Nothing could have prepared us for the sight of a pink manta ray, even though we'd seen everything from cotton candy-colored crustaceans to spotted zebras. The world got a glimpse of the extraordinary species thanks to photographer Kristian Laine's photos which had only been seen seven times since its discovery in 2015.

The male manta ray which is eleven feet long lives in the waters off Australia's Lady Elliot Island which is part of the Great Barrier Reef. Although Project Manta, a research group focused on the ecology and biology of Australia's manta rays has spent a lot of time studying him Laine's beautiful photos have helped the animal go viral.

The manta ray, dubbed Inspector Clouseau in tribute to The Pink Panther is so rare that it led Laine to believe he had a camera fault. “I had no clue there were pink mantas in the world, so I was perplexed and assumed my strobes were damaged or acting strangely," he explained. Inspector Clouseau, on the other hand, is one-of-a-kind because of his brilliant pink tint.

In 2016, Project Manta performed a skin biopsy to understand more about his color. As a result, they ruled out disease and food as possible explanations of his unusual color. The pink skin of the manta ray is currently thought to be caused by a genetic mutation that allows it to express melanin differently. This is most likely erythrism, a condition in which an animal's coloring appears red or pink. Understanding this mutation could help scientists learn more about how manta ray color has developed in the future.

Manta rays are typically all black, all white, or black with a white belly, to put things in perspective. While genetic changes like these can make animals more vulnerable to predators, experts believe Inspector Clouseau isn't having any problems because of his massive size. Adults of the largest of all rays may weigh about 3,000 pounds, so he shouldn't have too much trouble fending for himself.

Inspector Clouseau, though he may not realize it, has become an internet sensation due to his unusual coloring. Laine considers the event an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as he is one of only a few individuals who have seen the pink manta ray in person. "I feel honored and really lucky." Laine explained to National Geographic.

Inspector Clouseau is a pink manta ray who lives on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

He is most likely the world’s only known pink manta ray due to a genetic abnormality.

He's only been seen a handful of times since his discovery in 2015.

Kristian Laine: Website | Facebook | Instagram

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