A beautiful manta ray, photographed swimming off the Great Barrier Reef, is thought to be one of the rarest in the world thanks to its almost entirely pink appearance.
Dubbed Inspector Clouseau, after the detective from the Pink Panther series, the huge ray has a wingspan close to seven metres wide, and weighs nearly two tonnes. Gliding around Australia’s vast Great Barrier Reef, the marine giant has only been spotted a handful of times in the last decade.
Finnish photographer Kristian Laine took these incredible pictures of the pink ray last year, and they are now causing quite a stir as scientists try to establish what causes the distinct colouration.
Kristian said the stunning photographs were taken near Lady Elliot Island on the reef. According to the photographer, there are multiple theories as to how Inspector Clouseau gets his unusual colour.
I have read multiple different answers, they have analysed a sample of his skin and they have changed their theories many times and still don’t seem to know for sure. I think the latest theory is that it’s some sort of a genetic mutation causing a pink of melanin to be expressed. It is very rare because I think there has only been around eight to 10 sightings since the first sighting in 2015. I felt amazed afterwards but also felt like when I was in its eye level I felt like he was smiling at me.
Kristian added, as he was photographing the creature he got so close to the ray he could have touched it. He spent around 20-30 minutes in the rare manta ray’s presence, who is thought to be part of a mating manta train that was circling around a cleaning station at the time.