We have already witnessed the existence of so many amazing creatures such as cotton-candy-colored lobsters and spotted zebras. However, I’m pretty sure that we’re not yet prepared for seeing a pink manta ray. Fortunately, an incredible set of photos photographer Kristian Laine. The unique animal was initially discovered in 2015 and has only been spotted a total of seven times since.
Project Manta has thoroughly studied the male manta ray, which is a research group mainly focusing on the ecology and biology of Australia’s manta rays. The photographs captured by Laine have the pink manta ray go viral among internet users. The animal was spotted near the waters off Australia’s Lady Elliot Island which are located in the Great Barrier Reef.
Laine was really surprised when he came across the eleven-foot-long manta ray. Laine states that the creature was so unusual that at first, he thought that there’s an issue with his camera. However, there was no such mistake as it was this vibrant pink color that made manta ray, nicknamed Inspector Clouseau, unique and outstanding.
To study further its coloration, Project Manta conducted a skin biopsy in 2016. In the present, researchers believe that the reason for its pink skin is a genetic mutation that expresses melanin differently. This condition is called erythrism and it results in red or pink pigmentation in animals.
Generally, manta rays are black, white, or black with a white belly. Although such genetic mutations make them vulnerable to predators, Inspector Clouseau doesn’t undergo such problems thanks to its sheer size.
Encountering the pink manta ray in real life is indeed an unforgettable experience for Laine. He told National Geographic that he feels extremely lucky and humbled to have witnessed the pink manta ray’s beauty in real life.