The Crocodile Hunter is dead. According to Time Magazine, Steve Irwin was snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef when he “happened to swim over a large ray which, startled, whipped its barbed tail upwards into his chest. He died instantly.” It was, apparently, a reaction of the ray to feeling ‘boxed in’ by Irwin and the cameraman who was filming him.

I expect the mourning and accolades to pour in thick and heavy for the next week or so. And I feel a great deal of sympathy for his widow and the two children he has left behind, children that he apparently adored. But I have to say that this is a case of the odds finally catching up with Steve. When I (infrequently) watched him on television, I usually found myself screaming at the screen, usually telling the “Croc Hunter” what an idiot he was. He routinely took chances that were avoidable, and played fast and loose with his personal safety, and the safety of his family. Remember the infamous ‘dangle the baby while feeding the croc’ incident?

Irwin always made me angry because he sensationalized the serious work of wildlife biologists and conservationists, who are often placed in danger, not for ratings, but because they are trying to save a species or a habitat, or to advance the body of human knowledge.

But as much as he pissed me off, I have to acknowledge Irwin’s deep and sincere love of animals and wildlife. And although he did things that I would have considered foolhardy, he was doing what he loved. I just hate that he has left behind children that now have to grow up without a father.