Steve Irwin is dead

by John Quiggin on September 4, 2006

Steve Irwin, famous as the Crocodile Hunter died today while diving near Port Douglas, after being stung through the heart by a stingray. According to the report I saw, only two people have ever died from stingray attacks in Australia before, so this was an exceptionally unlucky accident. Playing the Aussie image to the full and beyond, Irwin did a great deal to promote conservation. He was only 44 and leaves a wife and two young children.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Steve Irwin Dead - newsmotto!
09.04.06 at 7:58 am
Crooked Timber » » Why Oh Why Can’t We Have a Better Press Corps? (Oz edition)
09.06.06 at 6:26 pm

{ 46 comments }

1

Ginger Yellow 09.04.06 at 4:45 am

I sympathise with his family, but it’s a bit much to call this “an exceptionally unlucky accident”. The man made a living antagonising dangerous animals.

2

Laura 09.04.06 at 5:28 am

Dangerous if they’re interfered with.

3

David Weman 09.04.06 at 6:37 am

The NYT’s front page describes gim as: “Steve Irwin, a hugely popular Australian television personality known for his catchword, “crikey,””

4

RickD 09.04.06 at 6:39 am

Unless we know the details, I don’t think it would be fair to presume that Irwin deserved to be stabbed by a sting ray. Even given his past behavior.

5

Jack 09.04.06 at 7:12 am

For a few minutes the Wikipedia entry for stingray read “THE BASTARDS KILLED STEVE IRWIN!!!!” and nothing else. The entry is now relatively normal apart from mention that one killed Steve Irwin in the main text and talk of a conspiracy to do so in the preamble.

6

Alison 09.04.06 at 7:15 am

Because he made a living antagonising exceptionally dangerous animals it is unlucky that he was killed by a relatively non-dangerous one (‘rarely defends itself… prefers to swim away…. sting painful but not considered fatal’)

7

Ginger Yellow 09.04.06 at 7:52 am

With the caveat noted above that we don’t know the precise details, given that: a) he was filming a documentary at the time; and b) his documentaries generally involve him manhandling animals, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the stingray was unable to swim away. Besides, it’s not a question of deserving it. It’s just not in the least bit surprising. I would imagine his family have been dreading this moment for some time.

8

Russell Arben Fox 09.04.06 at 8:30 am

To leave aside the detached tone for a moment, and go completely fanboyish, may I say that I loved Steve Irwin, and feel some real sadness–for his family most of all, surely, but also for his viewing public–at his death? Steve Irwin was a spectacular entertainer; his television work was fascinating, funny, and often really very informative. My kids adored his stuff, and really, there are few other animal programs of its sort that I can say that about. And along the way, he raised more money and awareness about the environment than I probably could in a dozen lifetimes. What a loss, even if it isn’t entirely unexpected. RIP, Steve.

9

Kieran Healy 09.04.06 at 8:47 am

Crikey.

10

Ancarett 09.04.06 at 8:49 am

My family adored his shows. We feel great sympathy for his wife and children at his untimely death. I’m sure that someone will come in to slam his fans and his legacy, full of scorn for his less than perfect scholarship or research and his over-the-top showmanship, but they’ll get no welcome here.

11

jet 09.04.06 at 8:54 am

For any losers who think Steve “had it coming”, remember that he did more to protect wildlife and bring their plight to the public eye than you could ever dream of doing in several of your pathetic unproductive life spans. When it came to undoing the harm done to nature he was a fucking rock star.

Steve Irwin, animal rights rock star and Grade AAA human being.

12

Timothy Burke 09.04.06 at 9:05 am

Look, if a race car driver died while driving under the speed limit on an ordinary road, due to someone else running a red light and broadsiding him, would you say, “Come on, the guy drove race cars, it’s hardly surprising that he was killed in a car accident”? From the information that’s out there now, it sounds pretty clear like this was a freak occurance that had nothing to do with anything Irwin was doing to or with the animal except that he got close enough to it to film it with him in the same picture. It’s ironic that that he was killed by an animal after he’d done plenty of genuinely risky things with dangerous animals, but I wouldn’t say, “It’s his own damn fault” in this particular incident. If he’d been grabbed and drowned by a 14-foot croc, that would be a different thing.

13

Matt 09.04.06 at 9:21 am

I’ll always love him for conjoining two sentences that I suppose had never been conjoined before: “This little guy is completely harmless. (meaning a snake he’d knocked into his boat a bit before.) His Razor sharp teeth are sinking right to my bone.”

14

Ben 09.04.06 at 9:46 am

I note that Alexander Downer has praised Irwin.

Does this mean an army of bloggers are currently working to show that his death is an elaborate hoax and not the work of a stingray at all, but more likely Islamic terror-fascists who hated the freedom he gave animals through his convservation message.

It is well known that stingrays rarely kill and therefore the evidence from a photograph I have seen of Irwin’s barrel chest taken in 1996 and my in-depth, though somewhat recently acquired knowledge of dasyatids, proves conclusively that a barbed stingray spine is incapable of causing this level of damage.

15

Kelly 09.04.06 at 11:15 am

I did wildlife conservation/rescue/education for seven years, so Irwin has always held a place in my heart. As he’s gotten more famous, he’s gotten more irritating, and I can only take his show in tiny doses (unlike Jeff Corwin, who I watch whenever I have a chance), but still. He did such an amazing amount of work in conservation, something that I think people who only see the television personality don’t realize. And it goes beyond the Australia Zoo, too, which is a wonderful organization. He raised countless amounts of money, and more importantly, awareness about animals and our planet.

One of the best things Irwin did was show that scary animals have their place, and shouldn’t just be killed because they’re snakes, or spiders, or whatever. He did this for the poisonous and non, getting up close and showing people the importance rare, endangered, and just terrifying, animals have in our ecosystem.

And while Irwin did do things the average person sure as hell shouldn’t do, he was also trained in it. Yeah, he did dangerous and stupid things – most people who do wildlife rescue and conservation do. But no one ever deserves to die, especially in such a useless, senseless manner – swimming over a stingray, and being pierced in the heart. It is a complete, sheer, freak accident, and a very sad one.

His presence in conservation will be greatly, greatly missed.

16

engels 09.04.06 at 11:33 am

A polite suggestion: in the comments section for an obituary or death notice of someone who is neither a criminal nor a soldier, let’s not debate the proposition that the deceased “had it coming”.

BTW anyone who confirms my cherished stereotypes of Australians to the extent that Irwin did deserves some kind of medal.

BBTW (@ Jet) Note that it is possible to make these points without calling the people around you “pathetic unproductive losers”.

17

W. Kiernan 09.04.06 at 11:43 am

I stepped on one of those things once. It was the middle of the night. It hurt so bad I thought half my foot had been chopped off. I had to walk a mile, squirting blood like crazy (looking back as I walked, by moonlight I could see the line of footprints on the sand, the left ones pale, the right ones black with blood) before I got to a pier where the fishermen offered me a bucket of hot water and a ride to the hospital.

Damn, man, ouch, imagine getting stabbed in the chest by one. Rest in peace, crocodile man.

18

KCinDC 09.04.06 at 12:16 pm

Have there been a bunch of comments deleted that said Irwin “deserved it” or “had it coming”? All I see is people condemning such comments, so it seems a bit Rumsfeldian.

19

abb1 09.04.06 at 12:24 pm

It’s a preventive measure, like: don’t even think about it.

20

engels 09.04.06 at 12:40 pm

Yes, abb1 and kindc, I admit it: I am part of a Rumsfeldian plot to destroy free speech in the name of “not making bitchy blog comments about people who have just died”. My bad.

21

Doctor Memory 09.04.06 at 2:07 pm

Weird, Steve Irwin dies in a freak accident, and it leads to me agreeing… with Jet.

Kumbayah, lord, kumbayah.

22

Rasselas 09.04.06 at 2:59 pm

We’ve all got it coming, friends.

23

Antonio Manetti 09.04.06 at 3:04 pm

There seems to be a need to believe that Steve Irwin’s death was either some sort of retribution for carelessness or that he was an obnoxious guy not worthy of our grief.

The inability to accept that his death may have been a tragic accident to a decent human being is called ‘cognitive dissonance’.

24

conan macleod 09.04.06 at 3:09 pm

Speak for yourself, Rasselas.

I am Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. I was born in 1518 in the village of Glenfinnan on the shores of Loch Shiel. And I am immortal.

25

sidereal 09.04.06 at 3:12 pm

Rumsfeldian: There are those who say that Steve Irwin was a prancing todger, and that he, and indeed the entire island/continent of Australia, deserved to be killed and eaten by rats. I say they’re wrong.

On to the merits, per kelly:

He did this for the poisonous and non, getting up close and showing people the importance rare, endangered, and just terrifying, animals have in our ecosystem.

My problem with the Crocodile Man phenomenon is exemplified here. I don’t get how ‘getting up close’ and ‘showing people the importance’ are in any way related. Especially when ‘getting up close’ really means ‘messing with by grabbing and/or wrestling’. South Park dedicated an episode to a semi-fictionalized Irwin running around sticking his thumb up various animals’ buttholes for a reason.

I can certainly understand honoring his legacy as a conservationist despite his predilection for feeding crocodiles with his baby in his arms, but because of is just too much.

This is not to say in any way that Steve ought not be remembered well or that his family doesn’t deserve their grief or our sympathy, but he could have just as well or even better served the conservationist cause without being an adrenaline-addicted nutjob that dedicated significant airtime to trying to grab crocodiles’ tails to see if it would piss them off.

26

Chris Williams 09.04.06 at 3:21 pm

What a dude. I’ll miss him. I will get out my DVD of ‘Wiggly Safari’, featuring Steve and The Wiggles, and watch it in homage.

“Crikey, it’s a croc!” That was his catchphrase.

27

KCinDC 09.04.06 at 3:21 pm

Sidereal, I’m not sure it’s true that “he could have just as well or even better served the conservationist cause” without acting like a nutjob. Certainly he would have had a much smaller audience if he hadn’t acted outrageously.

28

Tracy W 09.04.06 at 3:29 pm

I’ve been to the Australian Zoo, it was very informative, and well-developed.

I’ll miss Steve Irwin, particularly for his ability to make fun of himself. Did anyone else see the trailer for Dr Doolittle 2, with Steve Irwin happily telling the camera what he was going to do to the crocodile, the crocodile happily telling the camera what it was going to do to Steve, and Dr Doolittle trying to warn Steve, with Steve saying “Just a moment, she’ll be right”, whirling around, and then screams off-camera?

I never actually saw the movie, but that ad made me think much more highly of Steve Irwin.

29

abb1 09.04.06 at 3:39 pm

Yes, kitsch sells, no question about it. My daughter is very upset and I am too.

30

H. E. Baber 09.04.06 at 5:48 pm

I’m a nut on animal shows though don’t care for reptiles, and watched him all the time, with my kids. No room for controversy here or drawing some moral. Just a lousy accident and I’m sad. RIP.

31

H 09.04.06 at 6:30 pm

Is #23 a reponse to #22?

He seemed a really nice guy to me — and sounds it even more in the quoted interview at the end of the linked piece. I fel for his family. Crass as it may seem to say it, I hope he was well-insured. (I don’t feel completely crass saying it, having recently experienced a very close call, and found comfort in what I believed to be my last moment that I had just doubled my life insurance).

32

julia 09.04.06 at 8:37 pm

I believe his wife is quite well off in her own right. I’m sure they’ll be OK financially.

33

jet 09.04.06 at 10:30 pm

Engels,
I believe Dr. Quiggin deleted an a-hole comment implying just that. I imagine most of the comments about “had it coming” were in response to that troll. I should have known better to respond, but when someone stomps on an unambiguously good human being who pulled far more than his own weight in making the world a better place, I can’t help but shout the f’er down.

34

Belle Waring 09.04.06 at 10:33 pm

the wife’s sister and in-laws run a delicious mexican restaurant in eugene or, which is incongruously decorated with a few big posters saying “crikey!” as well as sequined sombreros and the like.

35

P O'Neill 09.04.06 at 11:04 pm

In not the outlet I would have predicted, Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal offers a sendoff:

Croc Wrestler, R.I.P.

“I want to excite hundreds of millions of people about wildlife rather than just one or two million. That’s my style.”

So said Steve Irwin, who died yesterday while fulfilling his life’s ambition of working close to dangerous wildlife. Through his perch at the Discovery network, “The Crocodile Hunter” riveted TV audiences world-wide with his fearless exploits in the animal kingdom, from wrestling crocodiles to swimming alongside penguins. “Crikey!” he’d exclaim, with boyish and genuine delight.

His love for the animal kingdom was born early. The son of a herpetologist and a veterinarian, Mr. Irwin inherited a small zoo from his parents and built it into a national symbol. Like his zoo, Mr. Irwin also gained fame, becoming arguably the best known Australian who didn’t work in Hollywood.

Many will note the irony that Mr. Irwin was killed off the coast of Queensland by a blow to the chest from a stingray, which rarely attacks humans. But Mr. Irwin knew the risks of his trade and had escaped death more than once. Everyone from kids to the prime minister mourned him.

Among adults, Mr. Irwin sometimes invited mockery with his antics. But by getting up close and personal with some of Earth’s most unpopular animals, he was an environmentalist in the best possible sense. In his special way, Mr. Irwin opened eyes to what was amazing and miraculous, if never entirely lovable, about all of God’s creatures. Even the poisonous ones.

36

bad Jim 09.05.06 at 3:52 am

My nearly adult nieces and nephews liked Irwin, but then they used to have iguanas and pythons as pets. I found his manner irritating; yes, Steve, we know they’re dangerous, you don’t have to keep telling us.

Elsewhere he’s being compared to Timothy Treadwell, whom he resembles only to the extent that both dealt with animals so dangerous that most of us won’t approach them. Treadwell did press his luck, disastrously, but he wasn’t done in by a member of the bear family he’d been hanging out with.

Someone I know was stabbed in the leg by a stingray a week ago off Southern California. Divers don’t generally worry about them much, and perhaps they will from now on.

37

ajay 09.05.06 at 4:22 am

let’s not debate the proposition that the deceased “had it coming

Too late – Germaine Greer in today’s Guardian was full of it. Irwin never understood animals and destroyed their habitats, wrote the aged London-based literary columnist – he was also in cahoots with John Howard and OMG TEH BUSH!!!ONE!!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/australia/story/0,,1865124,00.html

Sounds like someone was a bit jealous about being demoted as Media’s Favourite Demented Aussie…

38

chris y 09.05.06 at 4:46 am

I found his manner irritating; yes, Steve, we know they’re dangerous, you don’t have to keep telling us.

Don’t bet on it, Jim. 35 years ago I knew kids in London who had no idea at the age of ten that milk came from cows. Starting from the basics is usually a good idea. If you want to protect the environment, there’s a lot to be said for explaining what the environment is.

39

Mr. Bill 09.05.06 at 6:34 am

Irwin’s show was great television, informative and fun, for a certain level. He was easy to parody (and knew it). I shall love him for a commercial he did for the ESPN network, giving the audience a spiel about the alligator he was going to accost in an interior setting, and when he spotted it, it was the Florida Gator (a masot, a guy in a suit)…
He will be missed.
And I agree with chris y. As a country guy, and former dairy farmer, most people are increasingly distant from the sources of their food, and indeed, physical existence. Ignorance of nature allows it’s abuse.

40

Antti Nannimus 09.05.06 at 12:06 pm

[Deleted – JQ]

41

nick s 09.06.06 at 6:46 am

BTW anyone who confirms my cherished stereotypes of Australians to the extent that Irwin did deserves some kind of medal.

There was a piece in the Grauniad undoubtedly compiled on a pub crawl across Earls Court where the young beer-retailing professionals were asked what Irwin meant to them. Most noted that while he wasn’t exactly the kind of Aussie that they considered a role-model (even at the Walkabout) he did epitomise something about their national culture that wasn’t simply exaggerated for foreigners who’d swallowed too much Crocodile Dundee.

The SMH also had a good piece on how Irwin’s fame was established abroad, embraced late at home, and dipped after the ‘Baby Bob’ episode: Queensland larrikins are all well and good, but not necessarily ambassadors for the entire nation. Still, he’ll be missed far beyond Australia. But it reminded me of Robert Hughes’s series, where he talks about the ongoing issue of Australian self-identity.

42

jewel 09.08.06 at 9:57 am

My heart goes out to Steven Irwin’s family. How sad and tragic to lose someone that has not only fulfilled his life dreams but a lifetime of love of wildlife, conservation and understanding and respect. He was doing what he loved and what identified him as a wonderful human being on this planet. I loved watching Steve and Terry – Steves enthusiasm and passion was easy to transfer across the TV to children and adults alike to get them focused on how important it is to understand conservation and also respect wildlife. He continually made it known to children and adults that NO ONE should try doing what he does. He was a consumate professional with integrity and values. I hold his family and he in the highest of regard and respect. My heart hurts for them, their loss and their grief must be overwhelming. Anyone who has anything bad to say you should keep it to yourself. My grandmother said if you dont have anything nice to say THEN DONT SAY ANYTHING AT ALL. Steve was in your face and making a place in this world for the animals that we all feared yet didnt understand. I loved that about him. He never waivered on who he was and what he was about – THAT is what a true man and human being who CARES does. He loved his family and his family and the rest of the world loved him – I know that I will miss him and so will everyday. This was his job, and his life – anyone who has a job like this knows that when they are out in the wild everyday with animals who act instinctually understands that is PART of the job and it could be their demise. I believe in my heart that Steve and his family knew this and accepted this because of all of their love for him and his great love back.
We will miss you Steve.
Love to Terry, Bindi Sue, Baby Bo and Dad Bob Irwin
Jewel

43

jewel 09.08.06 at 9:58 am

My heart goes out to Steven Irwin’s family. How sad and tragic to lose someone that has not only fulfilled his life dreams but a lifetime of love of wildlife, conservation and understanding and respect. He was doing what he loved and what identified him as a wonderful human being on this planet. I loved watching Steve and Terry – Steves enthusiasm and passion was easy to transfer across the TV to children and adults alike to get them focused on how important it is to understand conservation and also respect wildlife. He continually made it known to children and adults that NO ONE should try doing what he does. He was a consumate professional with integrity and values. I hold his family and he in the highest of regard and respect. My heart hurts for them, their loss and their grief must be overwhelming. Anyone who has anything bad to say you should keep it to yourself. My grandmother said if you dont have anything nice to say THEN DONT SAY ANYTHING AT ALL. Steve was in your face and making a place in this world for the animals that we all feared yet didnt understand. I loved that about him. He never waivered on who he was and what he was about – THAT is what a true man and human being who CARES does. He loved his family and his family and the rest of the world loved him – I know that I will miss him and so will everyday. This was his job, and his life – anyone who has a job like this knows that when they are out in the wild everyday with animals who act instinctually understands that is PART of the job and it could be their demise. I believe in my heart that Steve and his family knew this and accepted this because of all of their love for him and his great love back.
We will miss you Steve.
Love to Terry, Bindi Sue, Baby Bob and Dad Bob Irwin
Jewel

44

Kayla 09.09.06 at 10:53 pm

Does anyone ever DESERVE to die? I certaintly hope noone would ever say that. Despite his crazy acts and what not no one ever deserves to die. So he put his head by a few crocidiles. Didnt he do that to help us learn a thing or two?

45

David Lekis 09.09.06 at 10:59 pm

I am saddened by the loss of Steve Irwin, I throughly enjoyed his documentarys and his humor, not to mention he was incredibly strong, fast and athletic, the world has lost a great man. Rest in Peace Steveo.

46

Cheyenne 09.10.06 at 12:44 am

WHEN I HEARD ABOUT IT I WAS EATTING,MY GRANDMA HAD CALLED AND TOLD US. I WAS SCHOCKED AND COULD NOT BELIVE IT.I WILL MISS YOU STEVE!
TERRY,BINDI,BABY BOB,AND BOB IRWIN
SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS!

Comments on this entry are closed.