Yeah, I know I'm late getting to this....
Steve Irwin. Lordy. Poor guy. I feel for that man's family in a big way.
Having just returned from a dive trip in West palm beach (and yes, I DID practically take the entire month of August off), I have to say that I'm stunned, shocked, and amazed by the manner of his passing. I've been a diver for 8 years now, have seen many rays, and never have thought of them as anything more than beautiful, graceful creatures worthy of admiration. Granted, I've never been stabbed through the friggin heart by one, but I do think I've seen enough of them and heard enough about them to know not to fear them, per se.
That said, gentle though undersea critters can be, it's my feeling that anything under the sea should be admired and respected, but never EVER touched, harrassed, cornered or otherwise bugged for ANY reason. You'd be surprised what the oils on your fingers can do to coral and fishes. You might also be surprised to see the number of people touching wildlife, hanging onto coral, god knows what else. It's disturbing - yet, even as a safe diver, when accidental encounters with the dangerous stuff does happen, they can be beyond painful (as I was unfortunate to discover when slammed by a wave against some fire coral a couple of years ago)
To be honest, I'm more afraid of some of the corals and worms and the little guys that pack a bigger wollop if you were to touch them (or even brush up against them). Even the scary looking guys (sharks, eels, baraccuda) we saw on this last trip couldn't have cared less about us.
I guess for a guy like that, though, it didn't entirely surprise me that he had some crazy death. It's just a shame he couldn't have had 44 more years before it happened.
That said, there are a couple of dive pics of our trip posted here, courtesy of the lovely and talented Olga P. Enjoy.