The Project Manta research team has a skin sample of Inspector Clousseau, a pink manta ray spotted at Lady Elliott Island.
The Project Manta research team has a skin sample of Inspector Clousseau, a pink manta ray spotted at Lady Elliott Island.

Researchers a step closer to solving pink manta mystery

RESEARCHERS could soon know why the elusive pink manta ray at Lady Elliott Island has such unique colouring.

The manta ray, named Inspector Clouseau, was spotted by Project Manta researchers while diving off the island on Tuesday, who were able to take a skin sample from the mammal.

 

The Project Manta research team has a skin sample of Inspector Clousseau, the pink manta ray spotted at Lady Elliott Island.
The Project Manta research team has a skin sample of Inspector Clousseau, the pink manta ray spotted at Lady Elliott Island.

 

Project Manta lead scientist Kathy Townsend said the skin sample was bright fuchsia.

"We have preserved the sample to allow us to investigate it's unusual colouration," Ms Townsend said. "This has created a real buzz with our colleagues, as nothing like this has ever been seen before. We are very excited to analyse it further."

Ms Townsend told The Observer earlier this year this was the only pink manta ray in the world, to her knowledge.

Ms Townsend said a sighting of the "elusive" manta was a lucky and unique experience.

She likened the manta to Migaloo, the white humpback whale.

 

Inspector Clouseau was spotted in October 2015 and again on August 24.

Project Manta has identified over 1000 individuals on the East Coast of Australia and approximately 90% of those have been spotted in the waters surrounding Lady Elliot Island.

The identification comes from photo-identification and citizen scientists who send them photos and sightings information.

Pease keep an eye out for the pink manta ray and send any photos of manta ray's bellies to project.manta@uq.edu.au.



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