Animals with unusual colors have always been fascinating to observe, but while albinism and melanism can be found in a wide range of species, the same cannot be said for pink-colored animals. Nonetheless, this extremely exclusive club has just grown in size after a lucky photographer unintentionally spotted the world’s only pink manta ray.
After dolphins and an adorable elephant calf, it’s now a manta ray whose pink skin has never been seen before. This unique manta ray was first spotted in 2015 off the coast of Australia, and it has only been seen on a few occasions since then. Recently, wildlife photographer Kristian Laine managed to capture a glimpse of the amazing underwater creature.
The pink manta ray, which is nearly 11 feet long, lives in the waters off Lady Elliot Island in the Great Barrier Reef. Since his discovery, the marine creature has been closely monitored by the Project Manta research team. He was named Inspector Clouseau by the scientists after the famous character from The Pink Panther, and he recently went viral thanks to Laine’s incredible photos.
When the photographer from Australia first encountered Inspector Clouseau, he assumed her camera was broken. However, the manta’s unexpected color proved to be genuine. “I had no idea there were pink mantas in the world, so I was perplexed and assumed my strobes were broken or doing something strange,” the photographer told National Geographic.
It’s unclear what causes Inspector Clouseau’s pink skin, but scientists believe it’s a very rare condition known as erythrism. Similarly to albinism and melanism, erythrism causes a lack of natural pigmentation, but whereas in the first two cases the pigmentation is white or black, this time it is a vibrating pink.
Manta rays are typically black, but in some cases they can be white or even a combination of the two, making a pink manta ray one-of-a-kind!