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Published:September 4th, 2006 11:37 EST

Crocodile Hunter's Deadly Stingray Encounter

By Casey Gale

The king of creatures, commonly known as the Crocodile Hunter ", was killed Monday, September 4th while filming off the Great Barrier Reef for an upcoming television series, Ocean`s Deadliest. "  The 44 year old conservationist left behind his wife Terri, 8 year old daughter, Bindi Sue, and 3 year old, Robert Clarence.  

The Australian icon of wildlife leaves many in shock. Irwin`s show depicted him narrowly escaping Crocodile attacks, handling giant scorpions, and even taking bites from venomous snakes.  Although the beloved zoologist is known for his risky acts, it is reported that a death from a stingray is extremely rare.  Neuroscientist Shaun Collin reported to the Associated Press,  

It was extraordinarily bad luck. It`s not easy to get spined by a stingray and to be killed by one is very rare. Stingrays have a serrated, toxin-loaded barb, or spine, on the top of their tail. The barb, which can be up to 10 inches long, flexes if a ray is frightened. Stings usually occur to people when they step on or swim too close to a ray and can be excruciatingly painful but are rarely fatal. "

Irwin was swimming above one of the stingrays when the spine of the tail pierced his heart.  He was quickly taken to a rescue helicopter in Low Isle off the Queensland coast, and pronounced dead upon arrival at approximately noon.   

Although there were controversies over Irwin, including an incident where he cradled baby Robert while feeding crocodiles in 2004, he captured the hearts of Australians and Americans alike.  Irwin is also admired by Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer for promoting Australia internationally.  The famous words, Crikey " and isn`t she a beaut " will forever be reminiscent of the Animal Planet celebrity.