The Sad Thing That Happened To Stingrays After Steve Irwin's Death

As reported by Healthline, stingrays tend to be passive and largely harmless. Nevertheless, they do have prominent and powerful barbed stings, and while they very rarely use them against humans, the sting is venomous and can be very painful.

As Scienceline adds, human fatalities caused by stingrays are very rare indeed — at the time, only two had been reported in Australia since 1945. Sadly, on September 4, 2006, Australian icon, conservationist, and wildlife champion Steve Irwin became the third when he was killed by a stingray. The attack happened when the creature was swimming beneath Irwin while he and his crew were creating a new documentary in the waters of Queensland. Among the largest of the Dasyatidae family, the presumably spooked short-tailed stingray lashed out with one of the twin barbs on its tail. The barb struck Irwin's heart, puncturing it and killing him.

This tragic event sent shockwaves through the world as humanity mourned the loss of the jolly, charismatic zookeeper and 44-year-old icon of Australia Zoo. Irwin left behind a legacy of conservation, compassion, and boundless enthusiasm for our fellow creatures. Sadly, owing to the circumstances of his death, it appears that some may have exacted a terrible sort of "revenge" on stingrays.

The awful retribution Steve Irwin never wanted

According to The Guardian, just eight days after the fatal encounter, around 10 stingrats were found dead on Australian beaches with their tails slashed apart. However, it's unclear whether this was a targeted attack related to Irwin's death.

"It may be some sort of retribution ... or it just may be yet another callous act toward wildlife," said Michael Hornby of Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors (a group founded by Irwin and his wife Terri). After all, as terrible as it is, it isn't uncommon for rays that are accidentally caught by fishing boats to have their tails cut away, Stuff reports.

Per Stuff, in 2015, four dead eagle rays were found having suffered similar treatment. Agnes Le Port of Australia's James Cook University said, "Unfortunately, this is still common practice among both commercial and recreational fishermen who fear injury from the ray barbs."

Whether those stingrays were killed "for" Steve Irwin or not, though, there's no doubt that he would have been sickened by the deed, which flew in the face of everything the beloved Crocodile Hunter stood for. "He completely pioneered a new age in wildlife conservation," his son Robert told Esquire Middle East in June 2021 as he beamed with pride for his famous father. With Robert having picked up that torch with the rest of the family, there's no doubt that his father's great work continues.