TICKLED PINK: Clouseau in waters off Lady Elliot Island.
TICKLED PINK: Clouseau in waters off Lady Elliot Island. Contributed

Sample will help scientists work out why Clouseau is pink

MARINE scientists have managed to get up close and personal with Clouseau, the world's only known pink manta ray who frequents waters off Bundaberg.

Clouseau was spotted by the University of Queensland's Project Manta team and Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort guests on a dive on Tuesday morning and Project Manta's Amelia Armstrong was able to collect a skin sample.

The sample will assist in the team's research to find out why the rare ray is such an unusual colour.

"This is fantastic for Project Manta as the sample will help to determine the cause for the pink colouration and add his DNA to their database,” the Eco Resort said.

Clouseau, who is number 900 on the Project Manta database, was first spotted by a group of divers back in October 2015 at Lady Elliot's Lighthouse Bommie, a popular dive sight for manta ray encounters.

He was sighted again in the same location on August 24 this year and this week's encounter is the third sighting.

He is nicknamed after the bumbling Pink Panther inspector, Jacques.

"He really is that shade of pink - amazing,” the Project Manta team wrote on Facebook.

"Amelia was able to collect a skin sample via biopsy.

"We are excited to take a closer look to figure out what is making this manta such an unusual shade.

"He was engaging in normal behaviour chasing a female manta and being cleaned.

"We are hoping this colouration is purely skin deep.”



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