Robert Irwin, son of the late naturalist Steve Irwin, decided to kick off Shark Week 2021 by swimming with a giant manta ray! He posted a picture on Instagram, and said how excited he was to be starting the event.
Other outlets are reporting that he swam with a stingray, but there are many SIGNIFICANT differences between them mantas. They are of the Chondrichthyes class (which also include sharks), but the most important difference is that mantas do not harm people.
When false reporting of animals happens that’s harmful to the animal. If someone reading it sees a picture of a manta ray and then associates it with the same thing that killed Steve Irwin in 2006, people may view the animal as dangerous. It was a stingray that killed Steve and they have dangerous barbs on their tails for self defense. I would hate to think that a manta could be harmed out of fear because an outlet misreported the animal.