After yesterday's news that Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin had died off an Australian coast while filming a segment for a series on oceanlife, it now turns out that his death was caught on film. Irwin's official cause of death was a heart attack, but it was a heart attack caused by being stabbed through the heart by stingray's poisonous barb. Authorities have reviewed the tape and said that there "was no evidence [Irwin] provoked the animal" - which is what many people had been speculating about, since stingrays generally do not attack (they just scurry away). At any rate, we imagine the authorities and Irwin's associates will destroy the tape - if that got into the wrong hands...

The NY Times obituary on Irwin calls him a "Wildlife Master" and an "ebuillant staple of American talk shows," and includes some insight from Dr. Leo Smith, "expert on venomous fishes in the department of ichthyology at the American Museum of Natural History" (Smith was featured in the Times' Science section last week, in the article on all sorts of venomous fishes).

[A]lthough Mr. Irwin had no scientific degree and some scientists criticized his theatrics and hyperbole, “he could be considered a biologist rather than just a television personality.”

“He was knowledgeable and seemed to care passionately about wildlife,” Dr. Smith said. “He took a very outgoing approach that made people less fearful of sharks and other mean things out there.”

Mr. Irwin’s death, he said, “is depressing because the last thing you want is for the guy who says things are safe to be killed.”

It is sad, because he did try to make nature more relatable, if in a very unconventional manner. The Australian government clearly views him as a hero, as they are offering a state funeral for Irwin if his family wishes for one.

And our readers are certainly divided about whether he did good or harm for the enivornment.

Photograph of a child signing one of Irwin's signature khaki shirts at his Australia Zoo by Steve Holland/AP