World's only pink manta ray is seen swimming off the Great Barrier Reef
This is one of those stories that reminds you just how incredible nature is.
A strikingly beautiful pink manta ray - believed to be the rarest in the world due to its unique coloring - has been photographed off the Great Barrier Reef near Lady Elliot Island, Australia.
In a moment that I can only compare to that time I caught a shiny Matine in Pokémon Gold, the stunning images were captured by Finnish underwater photographer Kristian Laine, and were later shared to his social media accounts.
The spectacular creature has been named Inspector Clouseau by experts, after the detective from the Pink Panther series.You never know what nature is going to throw up. This is the moment a fish with a "human face" was spotted in China:
According to National Geographic, the 11-foot Inspector Clouseau was first spotted back in 2015, and the pink giant has been seen fewer than 10 times since.
Sharing the images with his 13,000 Instagram followers, Laine captioned the image: "[The world's] only pink manta called Inspector Clouseau. What an amazing and absolutely unforgettable encounter that was. Stay tuned for more photos to come of this beautiful mantas little adventures at Lady Elliot Island".
In an interview with Angela Heathcote at Australian Geographic, Laine said: "At first I was very confused. I actually thought my strobes were playing up."
The photographer shared more pictures of the incredible ocean dweller on Monday, along with the caption: "Its pink manta kind of monday today. The only pink manta in the whole world can be found cruising the shallow waters around lady elliot from time to time, around 8 times in 8 years i think is more like the odds [sic]"
Per National Geographic, Project MANTA - a multidisciplinary study of manta rays established back in 2007 - says the leading theory is that Inspector Clouseau has a genetic mutation in its expression of melanin, or pigment, says Asia Haines, a research assistant for the group.
Smithsonian Magazine states: "Such mutations are fairly common in the animal world, including among fish, as well as humans with albinism."
Writing on his official photography website, KristianLainePhotography.com, Kristian says his love of water came when he was just nine months old, when his mom was bathing him. Laine recalls that he "started diving like a fish and never stopped".
Laine then found a love for snorkeling when his family would travel to Spain, and would later move to the Australian Gold Coast, where he fell in love with surfing. However, after a back injury left him unable to surf anymore, Laine says he became obsessed with nature in Queensland, and started to take pictures during weekend hikes.
It was after he saw a "cool photo of a turtle" that Kristian "knew he needed to start underwater photography".