Monday, September 04, 2006


Well, for a guy who seems to have lived a charmed life, crocodile hunter Steve Irwin has been suffled off this mortal coil by an extreme case of bad luck. After making a career out of manhandling the fiercest predators on Earth, Irwin was killed by a stingray while diving off the coast of Australia. It wasn't the venom that killed him. Stingray venom is painful, and not a lot of fun, but is very rarely lethal. What got him, apparantly, is a one-in-a-million shot where the ray's barb pierced his heart. He is survived by his wife and two kids. Here is the full AP story.

I can't say I was a fan. I took more of a 'let's see what this nutjob will do next' attitude toward him, but I can't deny that he did a lot of good for wildlife in general, and for Australian wildlife specifically. His high profile and crazy antics may have paved the way for the popularity of the cable network Animal Planet, and he definately helped raise public awareness of the plight of the world's endangered species. And, at the risk of sounding trite, he died while doing what it was he loved to do. And I suppose that's one of the better ways to go. Vaya con dios, Steve. Good on ya.



Monkey said...

Since you seem to know a lot about marine life- clear this up for me.
I have gone swimming with wild sting ray in Mexico. Are these different sting rays that can kill people?

Marius said...

Normally a sting ray can deliver a nasty, painful, but non-lethal sting. As I understand what happened here, it was an especially large ray that got Irwin, and it was an incredible fluke that the stinger actually went between his ribs and punctured his heart. The story doesn't say why the ray stung him. They are usually pretty docile unless provoked. Most people that get stung are swimmers who inadvertantly step on one. I would not think it unreasonable to imagine that Irwin tried to get too close to the beastie, and it reacted as it would to any percieved threat. This is kind of the equivalent of someone messing with a wild rabbit that can, at worst, give you a nasty bite, and instead the rabbit leaps up and bites thier carotid artery and they bleed to death. It's that unlikely.

Marius said...

Oops, that should read 'their'.

keith courville said...

"bites thier carotid artery and they bleed to death."

monty python?