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

Updated on July 2, 2016

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 snorkeling 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
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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    • profile image

      Mum 

      5 years ago

      Hello

    • Karanda profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Wilton 

      6 years ago from Australia

      Both my sons are keen fishermen and spend a lot of time on the water. They tell me the stingrays are so fast moving it is almost impossible to get a good look at them, never mind a photo. Thank you for your comment and encouragement @channelshitsunday. Much appreciated.

    • channelwhitsunday profile image

      channelwhitsunday 

      6 years ago

      Another great researched article. I am learning so much as I follow this series. I see Stingrays all the time at Whitehaven Beach, and as you say they take off as soon as your approach them.

    • Karanda profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Wilton 

      6 years ago from Australia

      Gee thanks for the vote and the comment breakfastpop. I used to be terrified of the critters under the surface but the more research the more I find that injury is usually a result of people's carelessness.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 

      6 years ago

      I found this piece to be extremely interesting and I am voting that way.

    • Karanda profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Wilton 

      6 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for your comment CMHypno, I agree completely. Steve Irwin would be the first to want stingrays and all marine creatures preserved regardless of his own death. A reminder perhaps that no one should become complacent no matter how knowledgeable they are.

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 

      6 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      Interesting hub Karanda. It seems to me that Steve Irwin's death was one of those freak accidents that can unfortunately so easily happen. Working with wildlife is never predictable and, as you say, Steve Irwin would be gutted if he thought that stingrays were being demonised because of his tragic death.

    • Karanda profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Wilton 

      6 years ago from Australia

      Thanks AliciaC. The Great Barrier Reef is very special indeed, in spite of all the critters out there. I hope you do get to see it in person one day, you won't regret it that's for sure.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I'm enjoying your series about the Great Barrier Reef, Karanda. I would love to visit the reef in person one day! Thank you for sharing the photos and the information.

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