Gold Coast photographer captures rare pink Manta Ray

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Gold Coast photographer Kristian Laine was recently diving off the coast of Lady Elliot Island on the Great Barrier Reef when he spotted one of the reef's rarest residents - a pink manta ray.

Confused by what he was seeing, Laine says he initially thought his camera’s strobes were malfunctioning.

He says he spent 30 minutes in total with the ray, freediving to about 12 metres. 

“I dove down multiple times, not really realising how special the manta really is," he explains.

"I accidentally timed my dives in a way that I managed to get about five good photos of it interacting in the manta train and chasing the female. I believe at times the pink manta was first or second in line to the female beating other males in order,” he said.

Laine says after surfacing he started to have a proper look at the images on his camera.

Once ashore, he discovered the “bubblegum pink” manta is well known among locals, and has even been given a nickname, 'Clouseau', after the Pink Panther detective. 

"You have no idea how far my jaw dropped when I realised what I had just witnessed and for so long and all by myself, he said.

According to National Geographic, the pink manta ray was first sighted in 2015, and is believed to be the only pink manta ray in the world. It has been sighted no more than 10 times in the last five years.

National Geographic have also researched the unique ray, and have been able to confirm the pink color is not due to infection or irregularities in its diet. The ray instead suffers a rare genetic mutation, which appears as an abnormal redness in its skin.

"It was a pretty special day for me,” said Laine. 

You can see more of Kristian Laine’s photography on his website and his Instagram page. A huge thanks to Kristian for letting us share the story behind his images. 

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