As reported off-topic and seemingly everywhere else, crocodile hunter Steve Irwin has been felled at the age of 44 by a barb from a stingray. Australia's favorite "larrikin adventurer" received a puncture in the chest while diving in shallow water yesterday off Port Douglas in north Queensland, apparently after surprising the fish. Irwin's wife and children, familiar to fans of his adventure shows, were not present at the time. According to one account:
"The footage shows him swimming in the water, the ray stopped and turned and that was it," said boatowner Peter West, who viewed the footage afterwards.
"There was no blood in the water, it was not that obvious … something happened with this animal that made it rear and he was at the wrong position at the wrong time and if it hit him anywhere else we would not be talking about a fatality."
The precise cause of death is not yet known, and I'm not sure I could tell the difference between a stingray and a manta ray, though one or the other washed up on the beach when I was a kid and the smell alone could kill you. The ray's 20-centimeter barb could be fatal in a number of ways. Here's a picture of a stingray barb and the wound it caused in the neck of a sea turtle.
Obviously, this death will provide fodder for people who dislike the variety of animals Irwin championed, but it's significant that he wasn't done in by a croc (unless they put the stingray up to it); and it's hard to imagine a more fitting death for the beloved naturalist.
Meanwhile, Jim Fowler is still hanging in there.
And Bill "Mr. Noodle" Irwin is still with us too.