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Facts and Myths About Stingrays in the Great Barrier Reef and the Legendary Steve Irwin

Updated on February 18, 2019

Stingray Gliding Along the Bottom of the Ocean

Sadly, Steve Irwin's quest to get as close as he could to all the marine creatures ended in tragedy.
Sadly, Steve Irwin's quest to get as close as he could to all the marine creatures ended in tragedy. | Source

Airlie Beach is the Perfect Place to Stay

The Dangerous Creatures of the Great Barrier Reef series has been commissioned by Toscana Village Resort, Airlie Beach Accommodation.

Park yourself in some fine accommodation in Airlie Beach and select from a variety of day tours that will take you to the reef or islands for the snorkelling or diving adventure of a lifetime.

Scuba Diving on the Reef

The rewards of diving the reef far outweigh any risks to the diver.
The rewards of diving the reef far outweigh any risks to the diver. | Source

Steve Irwin's Fate

The legendary Steve Irwin, Australia's most iconic name in wild life preservation was killed by a stingray whilst diving under the pristine waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Australia was shocked, not so much that he had met his match but more so that the creature who claimed his lfie was a stingray.

Steve raised crocodiles, dabbled and played with them - the saltwater variety and the big ones to boot – the ones with a reputation for killing humans. Yet his death only came about from his encounter with a stingray. Anyone who has followed the man's story knows the last thing Steve would want, is a lack of understanding to develop about the stingray because of his death. He knew, firsthand that what he was doing was putting his life at risk. He got too close and suffered the consequences.

Myths About Stingrays

The stories began with the first encounter. The stingray is, at first glance, one of those marine creatures that cause one to gasp at the sight of it, especially if there is any understanding of the barb on its tail that represents a threat to anyone who experiences its wrath. Early last century the stingray was labelled as vermin. It was believed they were vicious marauders and needed to be extinguished according to the Popular Mechanics magazine of the 1930s.

Facts About Stingrays in the Great Barrier Reef

Stingrays have been given a bad write up recently too following the death of the legendary Steve Irwin. But Steve, of all people would sing their praises from the rooftops. Stingrays of all varieties are now well known to be non-aggressive. They shy away from humans as they dive toward them in their scuba suits, masks and flippers. It is a rare find to capture the moment of a meeting with a stingray on film.

Stingrays are prone to hide by burying themselves in the sand or behind rocks when they feel threatened and are fast moving. When faced with their most dangerous threat - that of man - they are quick to retreat. Not all stingrays have a poisonous barb on their tail but it is best to avoid contact and shovel your feet while walking on the sandy bottom.

Under Water Delights of the Great Barrier Reef

Stingray | Source
Clown Fish
Clown Fish | Source
Star Fish
Star Fish
Tropical Fish
Tropical Fish

Types of Stingrays Found on the Great Barrier Reef

Bottom feeding blue spotted mask stingray buries itself in sand so only the eyes can be seen. It is the blue spots around the eyes that gives it its name. It grows to 30 cm (12 inches).

Blotched fan tail or black-blotched stingray is also known as the giant reef ray or black spotted stingray.

The cowtail stingray has many names such as feather tail, banana tail and fantail. It is occasionally seen in freshwater outlets.

Brown whiprays are known to forage for food close to shore.

The manta ray is distinguishable by its large protruding flaps which it uses to direct food into its mouth and can grow up to seven metres (22 feet) in width.

Finding a tour boat to the reef is easy; there are many operators with a commitment to preserving the reef and showing the tourist the Great Barrier Reef’s best face. Sticking with the locals increases the chance of seeing all on offer under the surface including the mystical stingray.

The Dangerous Creatures of the Great Barrier Reef series has been commissioned by Toscana Village Resort, Airlie Beach Accommodation.

© 2012 Karen Wilton


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