Rare Pink Manta Ray Caught Down Under

Millennial pink may be over, but don't tell that to one very unique manta ray that was recently spotted off the coast of Lady Elliot Island in Australia. Photographer Kristian Laine posted a few snaps of the extremely rare pink ray to his Instagram (which you can see below) after spotting it vibing in the shallow waters near the island. Cool animal sightings are hardly a mold-breaking trend on travel-themed social media, but Ray's discovery is special for a very good reason. The rosy manta ray isn't just an uncommon animal — it's the only one on Earth known to scientists.

The pink manta ray was first discovered in 2015, and he was bestowed with the name Inspector Clouseau, an homage to the detective from the Pink Panther films. Since then, no similarly hued manta rays have been discovered. Given that Clouseau has been continuously sighted since 2015, his unique coloring doesn't seem to have made him more attractive to potential predators. When Laine spotted him, Clouseau appeared to be competing with other male rays for a female's attention, so presumably the fact that he likes to rock pink hasn't affected his ability to mate, either.

How does a pink manta ray happen?

While we humans can just change our clothing or dye our hair if we're looking for a different color story, it's not quite as easy for animals in the wild. But one way for them to try on a different color is through their diet. Flamingos are often fawned over for their pretty pink feathers, but they're actually born gray. The pink coloring is a result of dyes in the shrimp and algae they dine on, similar to how the beta-carotene in carrots can turn your skin orange if you eat way, way, way too many of them.

Naturally, scientists assumed that Clouseau's coloring must've been due to a special diet, but after taking a small skin biopsy from him in 2016, they discovered something even more unique. As it turns out, the ray's pink hue is likely caused by a genetic mutation. No matter how he got that way, let's hope to see Clouseau's pink belly pop up on someone's Insta again soon.