Creatures with unusual colors have long been fascinating, but while albinism and melanism may be found in a wide range of species, the same cannot be true for pink-colored animals. Nonetheless, after one lucky photographer unintentionally saw the world’s lone pink manta ray, this ultra-exclusive club has grown even larger.
After dolphins and a lovely elephant calf, it’s now a manta ray whose never-before-seen pink skin color is surprising everyone. This rare manta ray was first sighted off the coast of Australia in 2015, and wildlife photographer Kristian Laine recently managed to get a glimpse of the spectacular underwater monster.
The pink manta ray, which is about 11 feet long, may be seen in the seas off Lady Elliot Island in the Great Barrier Reef. The Project Manta study team has been closely monitoring the aquatic creature since his discovery. Inspector Clouseau was given that moniker by the scientists after the iconic character from The Pink Panther, and he just went viral owing to Laine’s incredible images.
When the photographer from Australia first saw Inspector Clouseau, he assumed her camera was faulty or something similar. However, the manta’s unusual hue turned out to be genuine. “I had no clue there were pink mantas in the world,” the photographer told National Geographic. “I was bewildered and assumed my strobes were damaged or doing something crazy.”
It’s unclear what causes Inspector Clouseau’s pink tint, but researchers suspect it might be erythrism, a very unusual ailment. Erythrism, like albinism and melanism, causes a loss of natural pigmentation, however whereas in the first two cases, the pigmentation turns white or black, this time it turns a vibrant pink.
Manta rays are often black, but they may also be white or a combination of the two colors, thus a pink manta ray is quite rare!
For more of Laines’ beautiful work, you can follow him on Instagram!