Rare Pink Manta-Ray Spotted Near Australia’s Lady Elliot Island
by Katherine J. Wu/Smithsonianmag.com
Just in time for the rosiest holiday of the year, another diver has snapped a rare photo of Inspector Clouseau, the world’s only known pink manta ray.
First spotted lurking in the waters off Australia’s Lady Elliot Island in late 2015, the 11-foot male fish—cheekily named for the detective in the Pink Panther franchise—has been glimpsed only a handful of times since, reports Bethany Augliere for National Geographic. So rare are the sightings that Kristian Laine, the photographer behind Clouseau’s most recent close-up, was certain the ray’s coloration was an artifact of malfunctioning camera equipment.
“At first I was very confused,” Laine tells Angela Heathcote at Australian Geographic. “I actually thought my strobes were playing up.”
Clouseau was concealed by seven other male manta rays, all flashing more typical white undersides. According to Australian Geographic, the fishy octet had assembled to vie for the attention of a nearby female—an elaborate courtship ritual that typically involves a lady ray releasing pheromones into the water before zooming away, triggering a train of males into giving chase.