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Last Updated: Monday September 04 2006 08:12 GMT

Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin dies

Steve Irwin
A man who became famous for wrestling crocodiles and poisonous snakes has been killed in a diving accident.

Wildlife expert Steve Irwin, famous for the TV show The Crocodile Hunter, died while making an underwater film off Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

Mr Irwin was killed when he was stung through the heart by a flat tropical fish called a stingray.

Doctors rushed to try and save the Australian but he died before he could be taken to hospital.

Mr Irwin was married with two children aged eight and three.

The stingray is a flat, triangular-shaped fish which usually lives in tropical waters. It gets its name from the razor-sharp point at the end of its tail which is coated in poison.

Southern stingray (Dasyatis americana). Copyright Science Photo Library
Mostly found in tropical seas, but exist in freshwater too
Feed primarily on molluscs and crustaceans on sea floor
Swim with flying motion using large pectoral wings
Usually docile, not known to attack aggressively
Equipped with venom-coated razor-sharp barbed or serrated tail, up to 20cm long
Stingray attacks on humans are very rare, especially in Australia.

During his career, Mr Irwin turned a small reptile park in Queensland into what is now Australia Zoo, a huge centre for Australian wildlife.

Daredevil displays

He was famous for his love of animals and putting on daring displays where he would get close to crocodiles, alligators, tigers, snakes and spiders.

Mr Irwin's stunts sometimes got him into trouble, and he was criticised for holding his baby too close to a crocodile during one show at the zoo.

He was also investigated for getting too close to penguins and whales while filming in the Antarctic.

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