Love him or hate him, Steve Irwin is the quintessential Australian. Like the Statue of Liberty in New York, or the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Steve Irwin is an instantly recognised symbol of this country much like the Sydney Opera House is.
Since his tragic death yesterday morning, the story has dominated the blogosphere and news outlets everywhere. CNN and the Sydney Morning Herald have a good round up of the facts surrounding his death and a collection of tributes to him:
- CNN.com – Irwin died ‘doing what he loved’ – Sep 4, 2006
- World weeps for ‘extreme guy’ – National – smh.com.au
As the story became clearer throughout the day, we soon found out how the incident came to be. From The Register:
Fellow documentary maker Ben Cropp said he had spoken to Irwin’s cameraman. He told news.com.au: “In this case he [Irwin] was swimming alongside a bull ray, a big black ray and the cameraman would have been in front, filming him. Steve got probably maybe a bit too close to the ray, and with the cameraman in front, the ray must have felt sort of cornered. It baulked but didn’t spook and go racing away, which would have been fine.
“It went into a defensive mode, stopped, turned around and lashed out with its tail which has a considerable spike on it. Unfortunately, Steve was directly in its path and he took a fatal wound.”
That Irwin was a risk taker is well-known. British survival expert Ray Mears said:
Steve Irwin’s death showed how some wildlife programs have become dangerously “voyeuristic” and “gladitorial” to attract viewers.
The Crocodile Hunter “clearly took a lot of risks and television encouraged him to do that.”
Steve Calananis (CEO of Weblogs Inc.) agrees, going so far as to insinuate that the Discovery Channel is responsible for Steve’s death:
Discovery is responsible for creating the “naturalists have to risk their lives to be credible” genre, and they need to take a long hard look in the mirror and think about what they done. They are responsible for Steve Irwin’s death, and they are inspiring a second wave of risk takers who are undoubtedly going to meet Steve’s fate.
Discovery may have indirectly encouraged Steve’s risky behaviour but it was clear that he really loved what he does too. That and his passion of wildlife conservation was obvious. Dominic Knight sums it up well:
I guess he was used to such semi-supernatural rapport with animals that he may not always have appreciated the risks. He’d rolled the dice so many times and come up a winner that he was perhaps not always as cautious as he might have been – and that was what was so sad about all the criticism when he had his baby near that crocodile, which upset him enormously. He said he had been in control. The problem is that when wild animals are involved, that may not always be possible. But you have to admire him for taking those risks, even though they seem to have led to this death that has so devastated everyone. He was a man of his famously exuberant words.
But he ends with a great eulogy for Steve:
He’s not a man for whom it seems appropriate to wish he rests in peace. So instead, let’s hope he’s still out there somewhere, jumping on the backs of rogue crocodiles.
Steve, you little beauty. Good on ya, mate.
[tags]Australia, Australian, Steve Irwin[/tags]