Steve Irwin, Australian wildlife conservationist and host of the popular TV series "The Crocodile Hunter," died September 4 after being attacked by a stingray off the remote coast of northeastern Queensland, Australia -- and the tragedy has some cruisers questioning their next shore excursion.
"I was planning to [swim with the stingrays] in April, and it has given me cause to pause and rethink," gail811 posts. "With that said, after watching all the coverage on TV, it appears that this was really a freak accident. I most likely will still do the swim."
Indeed, stingrays rarely pose a threat to humans. The Associated Press reports that stingrays are "normally shy" creatures, and that experts are calling this a "freak occurrence." Swimming with stingrays is a popular pastime in Caribbean ports of call, including Antigua, Grand Turk and Grand Cayman (its Stingray City is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Caribbean).
At this point, cruise lines are reporting that stingray swims will operate as planned:
The line released the following statement: "The death of Steve Irwin was a terrible tragedy. Experts agree that it was an extremely unusual occurrence involving a particularly large breed of stingray found in Australia. To be stung by a stingray is rare and, despite the tens of thousands of our guests who have participated in the stingray shore excursions offered by our tour operator partners, there has never been a fatality or serious injury."
Disney, too, will continue offering the excursion at their private island Castaway Cay (the line last year began manicuring those stingrays' barbs to make the experience even safer for guests).
A spokesman tells us that the line has never had a fatality or serious injury on stingray tours, and that they have received no calls of concern thus far regarding upcoming cruises.
"I think everyone understands that this was a rare circumstance," Royal Caribbean International's Lyan Sierra-Caro says. "The stingrays in the Caribbean are much different then the kind found in Australia. Also, the stingrays that our guests usually see are used to being around humans and even fed by them."
Irwin was stabbed through the heart by a poisonous stingray barb while filming a new program on Australia's Great Barrier Reef, according to the Associated Press; he was 44.
Tell us what you think!
--By Melissa Baldwin, Associate Editor
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Updated: Cruise Lines Stand By Stingray Excursions
September 6, 2006