A photographer was free-diving in the Great Barrier Reef, when he spotted a bunch of manta rays. Except, upon taking their photo with his strobes, he realized one of the rays wasn’t the species’ usual black or white in color. It was bright pink, leaving him initially questioning if his camera had malfunctioned.
Kristian Laine was diving near Lady Elliot Island in Australia, home to many colourful fish, when he made the discovery. He witnessed a manta train (when a group of males chases a female) and after taking a photo using strobes, saw one was a rare pink color. Speaking to The Dodo, Laine recalls:
I was looking through the viewfinder and locked eyes with it. Only when I fired my strobes to take a photo, I noticed its pink color. I had no idea there were any pink mantas in the world, so I was confused and thought my strobes were broken or doing something weird.
Laine says the manta seem unfazed by having his photo taken, describing it as “extremely calm.” Looking back on the 30-minute exchange, the photographer says: “I felt a connection there.”
After returning to shore, Laine discovered the “bubblegum pink” manta is the most famous (and yet hard to find) inhabitant known to locals, and is named Inspector Clouseau. He’s even on the radar of National Geographic, who confirmed his color was not due to infection or irregularities in diet. It was determined he suffers a rare genetic mutation, causing an abnormal redness in his skin.
“I feel extremely lucky,” Laine said. “It was a pretty special day for me.”
All by images Kristian Laine and used with permission.