Although the giant manta ray is a remarkable marine creature for most of us, this pink specimen is undoubtedly exceptional. After all, it is the first and only pink giant manta ever seen. For the first time, a photo was taken of the pink giant.
The giant manta ray is the most gigantic (devil) ray in the world and likes to swim in the tropical and subtropical oceans. The impressive animals can weigh up to 3,000 kilograms and have a wingspan of around 7 meters. But what makes this giant manta ray – which was named ‘Inspector Clouseau’ – so unique is its color. Finally, another pink giant manta ray has never been spotted in the ocean. All peers of Inspector Clouseau have a (light) gray color.
This immediately explains his nickname: Inspector Clouseau is the clumsy detective from the comedy film series Pink Panther. The pink giant manta got that name already in 2015 when it was first seen in the shallow waters around Lady Elliot Island, an island in the Coral Sea on the east coast of Queensland in Australia.
Now Inspector Clouseau was spotted again, at about the same location, by photographer Kristian Laine, who could not take his luck when he got the beautiful pink sea creature in front of him.
Why Inspector Clouseau has a pink color is currently a mystery to scientists. Although they initially thought that a different diet – such as that of the flamingos – could explain the pink color, that theory was soon omitted. Inspector Clouseau has a large white ‘birthmark’ on his stomach that does not discolor regardless of his diet.
Even with the help of a small skin sample of the pink giant manta ray, scientists could not identify any significant differences with their counterparts. Perhaps a “unique mutation of melanin” writes Asia Armstrong, still affiliated with Project Manta on Facebook. But, “this theory still needs to be confirmed”, the scientist concludes.