"A Man's a Man for all that!" - Rabbie Burns

"Religion? No thanks. I prefer not to outsource my brainwashing." - Bunc
Trying to get your average Joe creationist to understand the phrase scientific theory is as hard as getting a fish to enjoy mountaineering. Its an unimagined world for them - it requires a complete reversal of their normal modes of thinking and being. The fact that humans could explain the complexities of this world without a creating God is a world view they cannot grasp. It's like asking a tuna if it appreciates the view from the top of Mount Everest. Bunc

Sep 4, 2006

Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin killed by stingray

Steve Irwin (44), the hero of many a small boy and star of "The Crocodile Hunter diaries", was a man who appeared to relish danger in pursuing his love of reptiles and Australian wildlife. Viewers will have seen Steve Irwin wrestling crocodiles and crawling into tight spaces to extract deadly snakes as he entertained his television audience. Although the risks he ran were high and his actions were the subject of some controversy he clearly had a depth of knowledge about the animals he worked with. Tributes have been posted widely on the internet to Steve Irwin who presented himself on television as an intrepid and fearless handler of the the most dangerous wildlife. Steve Irwin was heavily involved in conservation and worked for the Steve Irwin Conservation Foundation, and International Crocodile Rescue.

The news that television reptile hunter Steve Irwin has been killed by a stingray while filming a nature documentary off Queensland, Australia is both a shock and in some senses not surprising. Irwin was reportedly struck by the barb of a stingray while swimming off the Low Isles, near Port Douglas, Queensland. Those with Steve Irwin said he was swimming in shallow water, snorkelling as his cameraman filmed large bull rays.

As the news of Steve Irwin’s death swept across Australia, users visiting their favourite news sites led to a huge surge of traffic at news.com.au and abc.net.au/news/ and both news sites went offline for some time.

An emergency air ambulance flew to Batt Reef at 11am and paramedics arrived by boat. The venomous barb of the ray is said to have entered his chest. Steve Irwin was pronounced dead at the scene.
Wildlife film maker David Ireland told Australia's The Daily Telegraph: "Working with (wild animals) the way the way we do things can go very wrong. Rays are very dangerous. They have one or two barbs in the tails which are not only coated in toxic material but are also like a bayonet, like a bayonet on a rifle. If it hits any vital organs it's as deadly as a bayonet."

Dr Ed O'Loughlin who was on an Emergency Management Queensland Helicopter which attended the incident told the paper: "It would be highly unusual for a stingray to cause this type of injury. It became clear fairly soon that he had non-survivable injuries. He had a penetrating injury to the left front of his chest. He had lost his pulse and wasn't breathing."

David Penberthy, editor of the Sydney Daily Telegraph, told the BBC that he had never heard of anyone being killed by a stingray in Australia before: "You know we still at this early stage don't know what type of stingray it was, or, you know I guess given the bloke's track record, whether he was getting up close and personal with it as well. Or whether it was just a total freak accident and in the course of making this nature documentary he just ended up being attacked."

The most common forms of marine stingray found around Queensland have a barbed venomous sting which is normally used in defence. These fish are not normally aggressive and most rays bury themselves beneath the bottom substrate and are unseen by bathers. Stings are uncommon but when they do happen usually occur in the foot, calf or upper leg area when rays are accidentally stepped upon. Such wounds are extremely painful but rarely fatal, unless the barb strikes an artery, major organ or the chest region. Irwin's death was only the third known stingray death in Australian waters, said shark and stingray expert Victoria Brims.

Wildlife experts said the normally passive creatures only sting in defence, striking with a bayonet-like barb when they feel threatened or are trodden on.

Steve Irwin will be a loss to the conservation world, particularly in Australia. Given the way Steve lived his life, perhaps it was a fitting if tragic way for Steve to go - interacting with dangerous wildlife in the way he so clearly loved.

Tributes to Steve Irwin
Aurstralian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer described CROCODILE Hunter Steve Irwin as a great Australian who lifted Australia's international profile. "Steve was a good friend and a great Australian," he said, adding "Steve made a significant contribution to raising the profile of Australia internationally, particularly in the United States."

Steve Irwin was one of the stars of the government's Australia Week Festival in Los Angeles over the last two years. Mr Downer said Irwin was generous with helping to promote Australia's interests overseas. Mr Irwin had been scheduled to open one of the main events in the 2007 Aurstralia week festival.

Ray Mears the survival expert said his death was a "sobering lesson". Mears however also warned of the "gladiatorial" television of today and labelled some wildlife shows "voyeuristic". He said; "Television has become very gladiatorial and it's not healthy. The voyeurism we are seeing on television has a cost and it's that cost Steve Irwin's family are paying today."

David Bellamy called him "one of the great showmen and conservationists". Wildlife expert Mark O'Shea said it would leave an "immense hole" in the world of conservation and television.

He is survived by his American-born wife, Terri, who was told of her husband's death while on a walking tour in Tasmania. She returned to the Sunshine Coast with her two children, eight-year-old daughter Bindi Sue and son Bob, who will be three in December.

Steve Irwin was born on 22 February 1962 in Essendon, Victoria, to Lyn and Bob Irwin.
The Irwin family moved in 1972 to Queensland to start a small reptile park at Beerwah, on the Sunshine Coast. In 1991 control of the reptile park -Australia Zoo passed to Steve Irwin when his parents retired. In June 1992 he married Terri Raines from Oregon USA.
Irwin and television producer John Stainton made their first documentary in 1992, The Crocodile Hunter, using footage from Irwin's crocodile-trapping honeymoon. 10 one-hour episodes were made over the next three years and shown on television screens all over the world.
Irwin made his first feature film in 2002, The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course, but reviews of the film were negative. In 2004 Irwin caused great controversy when he carried his infant son, Bob, in one arm while using the other hand to feed a chicken carcass to a crocodile at Australia Zoo. Irwin claimed his son was never in danger, and consistently refused to apologise.
Later in 2004 there was further controversy over allegations he disturbed whales, seals and penguins while filming a documentary in Antarctica.

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