Steve Irwin, the Australian television personality and environmentalist known as the Crocodile Hunter, was killed today by a stingray barb during a diving expedition.
Irwin, 44, was filming an underwater documentary on the Great Barrier Reef in north-eastern Queensland state when the accident occurred, Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on its website.
The paper and other Australian media reporting the death cited police or state government sources.
Telephone calls to Australia Zoo, Irwin’s zoo in southern Queensland, were not immediately answered.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said Irwin was diving near Low Isles near the resort town of Port Douglas, about 2,100km north of Brisbane when the incident happened.
A helicopter carrying paramedics flew to the island, but he died from a stingray barb to the heart, ABC reported on its website.
Irwin is survived by his American wife Terri Irwin, from Oregon, who was Terri Raines before they married in 1992, their daughter Bindi Sue, eight, and son Bob, who will turn three in December.
Irwin is famous for his enthusiasm for wildlife and his catchcry “Crikey!” in his television programme, Crocodile Hunter, which was first broadcast in Australia in 1992 and has been broadcast around the world on the Discovery channel.
He rode his image into a feature film, and developed the Australia Zoo as a tourist attraction.
The public image was dented in 2004 when Irwin triggered an uproar by holding his baby in one arm while feeding large crocodiles inside a zoo pen. Irwin claimed at the time there was no danger to his son, and authorities declined to charge Irwin with violating safety regulations.
Later that year, he was accused of getting too close to penguins, a seal and humpback whales in Antarctica while making a documentary. Irwin denied any wrongdoing, and an Australian Environment Department investigation recommended no action be taken against him.