Surfers honour Steve Irwin

HUNDREDS of surfers formed a circle in the waves off Australia’s eastern coast and cast of wild flowers into the Pacific Ocean yesterday to honour Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin.

It was reported by Australian media that a family service for Irwin, who was killed a week ago when a stingray barb pierced his chest as he filmed a TV show, was held on Saturday on his wildlife park.

But Irwin’s manager John Stainton said the reports were conjecture and the family would make a statement. Brisbane’s The Sunday Mail reported a private ceremony took place on Saturday; the Nine and Seven television networks showed footage of an empty marquee and chairs they reported were used in the ceremony.

Details of the funeral have been of interest because of Irwin’s massive popularity. His father, Bob, said the family would hold a small private ceremony but that fans could honour Irwin at a public service later.

In the surf memorial, about 300 board riders, some dressed in khaki shirt and shorts of the kind that Irwin adopted as his uniform, paddled out from Alexandra Headland, carrying sprigs of wild flowers in their teeth.

A wildlife fanatic, Irwin, 44, was also an accomplished surfer.

The Sunday Mail said Irwin’s family received permission from the local council to bury Irwin on the site of his family’s zoo, and that a service was held on Saturday.

Mr Stainton wouldn’t confirm that the service had taken place or details about where he would be buried.

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