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Last Updated: Monday, 14 June, 2004, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
Croc star's 'whale swim' probed
Steve Irwin holding baby near croc
Irwin was criticised for holding his baby near a crocodile
Crocodile hunter Steve Irwin's television firm is being investigated after he was filmed with two whales while making a documentary, he said.

Irwin, who was criticised after feeding a crocodile while holding his baby son, denied riding on the back of a whale.

The allegations arose during the making of hour-long documentary Ice Breaker in the Antarctic in February, which said he "slides down hills with penguins".

Australian law prohibits interacting too closely with Antarctic wildlife.

Anyone found guilty of breaking this law risks a fine or possible time in jail.

Promotional material for the documentary says: "He slides down hillsides with penguins, almost rubs noses with the notoriously dangerous leopard seals and spends the most inspiring time with two friendly humpback whales."

They thought that I was riding a whale, which is absolutely ludicrous
Steve Irwin
But Irwin described the episode as "just a big storm in a tea cup", and insisted he had merely been "bobbing around" in the sea when the two whales had come to him while he was sitting on an iceberg.

He told the Nine Network said he had been watched by a passing ship as the two whales were near him.

"This big ship was coming past... they saw it from a mile or half a mile away... they thought that I was riding a whale, which is absolutely ludicrous."


The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) says it urgently wants to see the film to see if its rules have been broken.

Certain types of close contact with wildlife in the Antarctic are banned under AAD regulations, which issues permits to visit the Australian sector.

Parliamentary environment secretary Sharman Stone said the AAD had asked for a copy of the film, due to be shown in the US next month.

Ms Stone said Irwin's company Big Picture Show did have permission to film whales, with Irwin insisting the Australian authorities had seen and approved the film.

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