'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin
SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- Steve Irwin, the TV presenter known as the "Crocodile Hunter," has died after being stung by a stingray in a marine accident off Australia's north coast.
Media reports say Irwin was diving in waters off Port Douglas, north of Cairns, when the incident happened on Monday morning.
Irwin, 44 was killed by a stingray barb that went through his chest, according to Cairns police sources. Irwin was filming an underwater documentary at the time.
Ambulance officers confirmed they attended a reef fatality Monday morning off Port Douglas, according to Australian media.
Queensland Police Services also confirmed Irwin's death and said his family had been notified. Irwin was director of the Australian Zoo in Queensland.
He is survived by his American-born wife Terri and their two children, Bindi Sue, born 1998, and Robert (Bob), born December 2003.
"The world has lost a great wildlife icon, a passionate conservationist and one of the proudest dads on the planet," his friend and producer John Stainton told reporters in Cairns, according to The Associated Press. "He died doing what he loved best and left this world in a happy and peaceful state of mind. He would have said, 'Crocs Rule!' "
Australia Prime Minister John Howard said he was "shocked and distressed at Steve Irwin's sudden, untimely and freakish death," according to the AP.
Irwin became a popular figure on Australian and international television through Irwin's close handling of wildlife, most notably the capture and relocation of crocodiles.
Irwin's enthusiastic approach to nature conservation and the environment won him a global following. He was known for his exuberance and use of the catch phrase "Crikey!"