World's 'ONLY pink manta ray' revealed in stunning underwater photos from Great Barrier Reef

STUNNING images of what may be the world's only pink manta ray have been revealed.

Photographer Kristian Laine snapped the ultra-rare creature during a dive in Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

Scientists still don't know why the manta has its strange pink hue, but have ruled out an odd diet.

Nicknamed Inspector Clouseau, the famous inspector from Pink Panther, the ray measures 11 feet.

It was discovered five years ago, and was recently pictured by Laine just off Lady Elliot Island.

"I had never even heard of a pink manta," said Laine, speaking to ScienceAlert.

"And when I first saw it, I thought my camera was playing up.

"Only later that night I saw a photo of a pink manta on the restaurant's notice board and thought it was a joke.

"Until I rushed to check the belly patterns in my camera."

This isn't the first time the pink ray has been spotted.

In fact, it was previously snapped in 2015 by a diver named Ryan Jeffery.

At the time, the ray was named Inspector Clouseau – the famous inspector from Pink Panther.

The pink manta has only been seen around 10 times, according to National Geographic.

But scientists are still trying to investigate the strange creature, and understand more about its origins.

Great Barrier Reef – the key facts

Here's what you need to know…

  • The Great Barrier Reef is the world's biggest coral reef system
  • It is made up of more than 2,900 reefs and 900 islands that stretch over an area of 133,000 square miles
  • The reef sits off the eastern coast of Australia in the Coral Sea
  • It's so big that it can be seen from outer space
  • And because it's made of coral, it's believed to be the world's biggest single structure comprised of living organisms
  • The reef is made up of billions of tiny organisms called coral polyps
  • The area has been classed as a World Heritage Site since 1981
  • But there are fears that the Great Barrier Reef may be at risk
  • Huge areas of the reef have died due to high water temperatures, which scientists have attributed to global climate change

A small biopsy was taken from the manta in 2016 in a bid to explain the bright pink hue.

"There has not been a thorough investigation into diet or stable isotope analysis," said Asia Armstrong, of Project Manta.

"But given the stability of the white "birthmark" (clearly seen in the second image) and pink colour over time we think diet can be ruled out.

"The working theory is that it is just a different and very unique expression of the melanin, but that is still to be confirmed."

In other news, rare footage shows 20 sharks doing the strange "pipi dance" on an Australian beach.

Birds in towns and cities are risking their lives by gorging on junk food.

And, rare footage of "genius" dolphins has revealed how they use hundreds of sounds to talk to each other.

What do you make of this stunning creature? Let us know in the comments!

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