Coming across a manta ray is quite a rare event, and sighting one pink in colour even more so. Finnish ocean photographer Kristian Laine was lucky enough to spot one earlier this week while free diving of the coast of Lady Elliot Island, Australia.
The manta ray, described as a ‘marine unicorn,’ has only ever been seen by a handful of people, and Laine got up close and personal with this extremely rare animal, posting the pictures on Instagram.
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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 😉 . . . . . #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia #southerngreatbarrierreef #nikonaustralia #gbrmarinepark #australiangeographic #ladyelliotislandecoresort #underwaterphotography #ocean #oceanvision #discoverocean #ausgeo #qldparks #aquatech_imagingsolutions #madeofocean #freedive #natgeowild #natgeoyourshot #natgeoau #aussiephotos #ig_australia__ #natgeo #ourblueplanet #padi #australia_shotz #abcaustralia #oceanconservancy #underwater_is_life #snorkel.around.the.world #naturephotographer
In an interview with Ladbible, Laine said “I felt amazed afterwards but also felt like when I was in its eye level, I felt like he was smiling at me.”
“The whole encounter lasted for about 20 to 30 minutes and he was part of a mating manta train that was just circling around a cleaning station.”
The 1-metre-long pink manta ray has become somewhat of a celebrity among marine biologists, as it was first spotted in 2015, and only about 10 times since then. Researchers affiliated with Project Manta, a multidisciplinary study of the ecology and biology of manta rays around Australia, have confirmed that the manta’s unusual colouring is indeed real, not photoshopped as some sceptics have speculated.
Laine was able to get close to the mantra ray because unlike sting rays, manta rays don’t have a sharp, venomous stinger.
Scientists believe the pink hue can be traced back to a rare genetic mutation similar to Erythrism, a condition which causes some animals’ skin to be reddish or pink, similar to the genetic mutation believed to be responsible for albinism, according to National Geographic.