While the bushfires having dominated the Australian press, there's been little attention to a rare fish spotted off of the continent's Great Barrier Reef.
Its rosy hue has stumped scientists as to why this 11-foot bright pink mantra came to be? It was named after "Inspector Clouseau," the bumbling detective of the Pink Panther movie franchise. According to National Geographic, "the fish, who cruises the waters around Lady Elliott Island, is the only known pink manta ray in the world."
How did the manta get its color?
Researchers with the Australian study group 'Project Manta,' theorized Inspector Clouseau’s color was the result of a skin infection or diet, similar to how pink flamingos get their color from eating tiny crustaceans.
However, in 2016 Amelia Armstrong, one of the members of the study took a skin biopsy from the fish, and the resulting analyses ruled out diet and infection as the cause — while determining the color was indeed real.
These findings led the team to theorize that the rosy pink hue is the result of a genetic mutation.
Researchers are tickled pink that this being the "one and only" pink manta, his predators are minimal. Guy Stevens, a co-founder of the UK’s Manta Trust, tells National Geographic that mantas are capable of surviving decades in the wild. To date, not being true to his 'bumbling' reputation, this Clouseau has done a good job eluding predators, as well as the publics' prying eyes — since, for many of us, we're just learning about him now.
This 3.3-meter (11-foot) pink ray with a 7-foot wingspan and weighing nearly two tons was first spotted in 2015 and has only been seen a few times since.
Can I see the Manta?
Like the Pink Manta, the Great Barrier Reef cay, and Lady Elliot Island are relatively unknown.
There are day trips to Lady Elliot Island for domestic and international tourists with minimal tours to explore Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
The reef is regarded as one of the best snorkeling destinations in the world, with an amazing array of colorful marine life. However, unless you are a trained deep-sea scuba diver, I don't think you'll get a chance to see the pink manta, who as noted above is good at alluding research teams and photographers.
However, there are glass-bottom boat eco-tours available, where you might just be lucky enough to get up close and personal with this mighty manta. It's worth a shot.
However, going forward, I'm sure a few savvy hoteliers and tour operators are already thinking about putting a special tour together, featuring the "one only" fish dubbed Inspector Clouseau — that just happens to be pink. Time will tell.
Primary Source: National Geographic