Monday, September 04, 2006



Croc hunter done in by stingray

Steve Irwin, the Australian television personality and environmentalist known as the Crocodile Hunter, was killed Monday by a stingray barb during a diving expedition, media reports said.

Irwin, 44, was filming an underwater documentary on the Great Barrier Reef in northeastern Queensland state when the accident occurred, Sydney's The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on its Web site.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. said Irwin was diving near Low Isles Reef near the resort town of Port Douglas, about 2,100 kilometers north of the state capital of Brisbane when the incident happened.

Queensland ambulance service spokesman Bob Hamil confirmed that a diver had been killed by a stingray off Lowe Isles Reef, but said the person's name wasn't being released pending notification of the family.

A rescue helicopter was sent from the nearby city of Cairns, and paramedics from it confirmed the diver's death.

"The probable cause of death is stingray strike to the chest," Hamil said.

Staff at Australia Zoo, Irwin's zoo in southern Queensland, said they had heard the media reports but could not make any comment.

How stingrays can kill you   (From TimesOnline)
StingrayStingrays are placid fish whose larger species are occasionally known to tolerate the efforts of gung-ho scuba divers to "hitch a ride" by clinging to their fins.

But when the usually non-aggressive creatures feel threatened or are trodden on, they are capable of delivering horrific, agonising injuries by lashing out with the razor-sharp, barbed sting at the end of their tails.

The barbs, which grow out of the bayonet-like sting like fingernails, are designed to snag in the flesh of the ray's unwary victim. Each barb is serrated and can be up to 20cm (8ins) long, and is coated with a paralysing toxin which the ray secretes along two grooves in its tail.

Stingray injuries are common, as the fish are often found around the coastline where people swim and paddle. Most wounds are sustained to the legs or feet when stingrays are trodden on in the shallows. In some cases the stingray’s toxic barb is broken off and remains in the wound, especially when the fish is pulled off the victim.

Fatal attacks, such as the one which today cost the life of Australia's "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, are however almost unheard of.

It is only when the barb enters the body through the chest area, so that the heart or other vital organs are damaged and the poison is administered directly, causing the blood vessels to constrict, that very serious injuries can occur and death is more likely.

Dr Bryan Fry, deputy director of the Australian Venom Research Unit at the University of Melbourne, said today that a dose of stingray venom was "extraordinarily painful".

"If (Irwin) was conscious he would have been in agony," Dr Fry told the Reuters news agency.

Dr Fry said stingray venom was a defensive weapon similar to that in stonefish, whose poison is generally fatal, but in the stingray's case the toxin was not lethal. It was the serrated barbs on the stingray's tail that would have delivered the fatal injury, he said.

"It's not the going in, it's the coming out," Fry said. "They have these deep serrations which tear and render the flesh as it comes out."

Read more from this article

Assorted links relating to Steve Irwin (borrowed from Look at This)

'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin killed. R.I.P.
Official Site.
Steve Irwin's Croc One
YouTube - Steve Irwin sacrifices child
Animal Planet :: The Crocodile Hunter
Steve Irwin - Wikipedia
Steve Irwin - IMDb
Irregular Webcomic: The Steve and Terry Cast
Bush town remembers Irwin
Irwin was one of the greats, says Bellamy


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