Coming across a manta ray is quite a rare and special event, now imagine coming across the world’s only pink manta ray!

Finnish ocean photographer Kristian Laine was lucky enough to spot the pink ray earlier this week while free diving off the coast of Lady Elliot Island, Australia.



The manta ray, described as a ‘marine unicorn,’ has only ever been seen by a handful of people, and Laine got up close and personal with this extremely rare animal, posting a series of stunning images on Instagram.



In an interview with Ladbible, Laine said

“I felt amazed afterwards but also felt like when I was in its eye level, I felt like he was smiling at me.

The whole encounter lasted for about 20 to 30 minutes and he was part of a mating manta train that was just circling around a cleaning station.”

The 1-metre-long pink manta has become a sought after celebrity among marine biologists, after first being spotted in 2015, and only about 10 times since. Researchers affiliated with Project Manta, a multidisciplinary study of the ecology and biology of manta rays around Australia, have confirmed that the manta’s unusual colouring is indeed real, not photoshopped as some sceptics have speculated.



Laine was able to get close up to the mantra ray because unlike sting rays, manta’s don’t have a sharp, venomous stinging barb.

Scientists believe the pink hue can be traced back to a rare genetic mutation similar to Erythrism, a condition which causes certain animals’ skin to be reddish or pink, similar to the genetic mutation believed to be responsible for albinism, according to National Geographic.