Popular Australian TV personality Steve Irwin must be the most famous person to be killed by a stingray.

Irwin, 44, died in a freak accident while he was swimming near a stingray in shallow water in Australia on Sept 4, 2006.

Also known as the Crocodile Hunter, Irwin was stung in the heart by the stingray's barbed tail, which whips up in a reflex action when it feels threatened.

It was the third recorded fatal stingray attack in Australia.

News agencies reported that Irwin had been snorkelling in about 2m-deep water for a documentary titled Ocean's Deadliest at Batt Reef, near Port Douglas, in north Queensland, when an Australian bull ray, estimated to weigh about 100kg, attacked him.

Cameraman Justin Lyons, who witnessed the tragedy, said in 2014 that the stingray had stabbed at Irwin "hundreds of times", and that his final words were "I'm dying".

Mr Lyons said he and Irwin had come across a "massive" 2.4m-wide stingray in chest-high water.

They had planned to film the stingray swimming away from Irwin. Instead, it struck out, apparently believing Irwin's shadow was a tiger shark, one of its predators.

MARCH 2008

A stingray leapt onto a cruising boat and struck a woman's face, killing her, off the Florida Keys, a group of islands in south-east US.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the 34kg ray, which measured about 1.8m wide, was also believed to have died upon impact.


An 81-year-old American man was in critical condition after a stingray leapt onto his boat and stung him, leaving a 5cm barb in his chest.

Mr James Bertakis from Lighthouse Point, Florida, was with his granddaughter and a friend when the stingray landed on the boat.

He was reportedly trying to remove the metre-wide spotted eagle ray from the boat when he was stung.

The women steered the boat to shore. Doctors were able to save Mr Bertakis after removing the barb by pulling it through his heart and closing the wound.