Steve Irwin (1962-2006)

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Steve Irwin died today in the process of filming a new documentary on marine life. He was stung by a sting ray in the chest, right next to his heart. Doctors have said that such an injury is nearly impossible to survive, even though people survive stings from them all the time in other parts of their bodies. Most of the reporting on this describes it as a freak accident, because the chances of a sting ray doing something like this are very low. My suspicion is that the chances of dying any time you get in your car might even be higher.

Irwin was widely known as the Crocodile Hunter, whose animal documentaries are unfortunately best known for what they are not. He's been viewed as a danger-seeker who liked to show off by treating very dangerous animals cavalierly. The reality is that he really did know what he was doing. Bloggers are already criticizing him for engaging in the sort of life that would bring on this kind of death, but that sort of attitude is at odds with the great care Irwin took to do what he did safely. Contrary to public opinion, he was not motivated by trying to appear foolhardy. He was emphasizing the danger so that others would not try what he was doing without the kind of training he had.

His primary motivation came through in almost all his productions, and that was not entertainment (though he was very talented at doing documentaries in an entertaining way) but education and awareness of environmental and conservation issues. One of the earliest episodes I saw showed his deep concern for whales that had ended up on a shore and were probably going to die. His love for wildlife and preserving ecosystems always struck me as the real reason he did what he did, starting at the very beginning when he filmed himself catching crocodiles to move them to places where they would not be threatened by poachers. I consider Steve Irwin to have contributed a great deal to the world in terms of education about the environment and awakening those who might not care as much to the importance of conservational concerns. His method of promoting environmental issues is not only far more consistent with careful scientific understanding but also much more effective than the traditional means, and for that I really have appreciated his work. He will be missed.

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I heard it on the radio this morning, Steve Irwin is dead. Every time I sat still today I started to get a little misty eyed over the news. I'm still having a hard time believing it now more than 12 hours after first hearing of Steve Irwin's demise. Read More

9 Comments

I'm glad to see you write about Steve Irwin, Jeremy. I think you read him right. It's certainly a big shock for people here in Australia.

I haven't heard anyone here make the criticisms you attribute to some blogs but I guess there will always be people who love to have an opinion despite not knowing much about the facts.

It's a sad time. While watching the news I even had tears in my eyes, and I'm a New Zealander!

I saw that criticism explicitly in one blog already, and I think I saw someone suggesting it obliquely somewhere else, but I don't remember now for sure what the second one actually said. I know I've seen people in the past suggesting that he was living a life that would guarantee an early death, and that's not really true given how careful he usually was. Since his death wasn't a result of something really risky given usual stingray behavior and the usual effects of humans being stung, this does not confirm that prediction. Calling it a freak accident seems much more accurate to me.

Update: See the comments here for the "it's his own fault" line. Did these people read the same information I did?

There's a as well. The first commenter gives the immoral argument right off the bat, claiming that he made a living of antagonizing dangerous animals.

Timothy Burke's comment (9:05 am Sept 4) is pretty funny, pointing out that if a race car driver died in a car accident going slowly on a regular road, you wouldn't say it was because of driving in dangerous situations at other times in their life. He's still wrong in taking Steve Irwin to have been doing something incredibly dangerous when almost all of the time he wasn't, but I thought that argument was worth repeating here.

I think he was a good man--he was lucky enough to find his fight and commit himself to it perfectly. I'm really glad that he lived and impacted upon the lives of a lot of youngsters. His conservation message is well received by them I think, as well as his motivation.

hi guys it is so sad bout steve he was a gr8 guy every1 loved him it was just a shoke wen i heard that steve irwin has just died iwas ike no way it carnt be tru but in tha end it was.It's a sad time. While watching the news I even had tears in my eyes.en i was watching his tribute it mad mi cry nd think so much bout steve.wen i used to watch his movies ova and ova agen at my pops house wen i was at tha age of 11 i used to lov him and still do.im 14 yrs of age now and id like to say sorry to terry bindi nd bob as they have lost there dad and husband.of cause use all will go throught a rough time. but it was freak accident no one knew it was gunna happened but it did im so sorry steve wish u were still here.:( :( luv ya steve always neva forget u!!!

The untimely passing of Steve Irwin is a great tragedy. This has effected my family more than I could have imagined; he has been a great influence on myself and my two boys. The world will never be the same. In the past, I have dealt with this type of emotional pain through music. Being a song writer and composer, I have written musical compositions and songs to honour friends, family, and fallen heroes to ease the pain and commemorate the contributions they've made in life. Steve falls under the obvious catagory of "HERO." Please accept and share with the world this musical tribute in honour of the great "CROCODILE HUNTER" Steve Irwin.. WE LOVE YOU STEVE!!


Sincerely:
David James

P.S. - You can visit me at: http;//www.davidjamesmusic.net
and download the musical tribute "THE MIGHTY STEVE"

I think Steve Irwin is a fantastic guy he has changed our world in so many ways...

I a big fan of the show and i am sorry about what happen.

ilove the show whin i was 4 there 11 now I still which it.

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