2006_09_steveirwin.jpgCrikey! Steve Irwin, best known as the Crocodile Hunter, was killed by a stingray while filming in the Great Barrier Reef today. The AP reports that Irwin had been filming series, "Ocean's Deadliest," "when he swam to close to one of the animals." Irwin's friend, John Stainton, who had been on board the boat during the accident said, "He came on top of the stingray and the stingray's barb went up and into his chest and put a hole into his heart." Stingways have a venomous stinger and Irwin was later pronounced dead by a medical staff in Cairns. Stainton also said, "He died doing what he loved best and left this world in a happy and peaceful state of mind. He would have said, 'Crocs Rule!'''

Irwin burst into the American collective consciousness with his antics wrestling wild animals and his unfettered unethusiasm for doing so in his show, The Crocodile Hunter. He also ran the Australia Zoo, which ws full of crocodiles and other staples of Australian wildlife. He faced a bit of controversy a few years ago when he fed a chicken to a crocodile with his baby in the other arm. In spite of the controversies, he was beloved, especially to the Australian people. Australia's The Age newspaper has an unbelievably cute picture of Irwin and a teeny tiger cub, as well as this quote from a mourner who headed to the zoo: "We heard the news ... it's very sad and we are very upset. Australia just lost a bloody good bloke. We grew up in Brisbane, followed his career. We just thought he was a good guy for what he did for Australia. He put us on the map, I reckon."

Steve's own website is down, probably because many people are visiting it, so here's Wikipedia's entry on Steve Irwin. Also, here's the Wikipedia entry on stingrays.