posted September 14, 2006 12:45 AM
Irwin fans urged not to harm stingrays
Sep. 13, 2006. 01:00 AM
SYDNEY, Australia —At least 10 stingrays have been killed since "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin was fatally injured by one of the fish, an official said yesterday, prompting a spokesman for the late TV star's animal charity to urge people not take revenge on the animals.
Irwin died last week after a stingray barb pierced his chest as he recorded a show off the Great Barrier Reef.
Stingray bodies since have been discovered on two beaches in Queensland state on Australia's eastern coast. Two were discovered yesterday with their tails lopped off, state fisheries department official Wayne Sumpton said.
Sumpton said fishermen who inadvertently catch the diamond-shaped rays sometimes cut off their tails to avoid being stung, but the practice is uncommon. Stingrays often are caught in fishing nets by mistake and should be returned to the sea, Sumpton said.
Michael Hornby, the executive director of Irwin's Wildlife Warriors conservation group, said he was concerned the rays were being hunted and killed in retaliation for Irwin's death.
He said killing stingrays was "not what Steve was about.''
"We are disgusted and disappointed that people would take this sort of action to hurt wildlife," he said.
Stingrays are usually shy, unobtrusive fish that rummage the sea bottom for food or burrow into the sand.
They have a serrated spine up to 20 cm long on their tails, which they can lash when stepped on or otherwise frightened.
The spines emit toxins that can kill many small creatures and cause excruciating pain. Most people who are stung by a stingray generally suffer painful, non-lethal wounds in their feet or lower legs.
Irwin's case was thought to be only the third recorded fatal stingray attack in Australia, Reuters reported.