Nearly everyone I've spoken to in the last two days has brought up Steve Irwin's recent death before making a comment about how I should stay away from stingrays. I wouldn't be surprised if his death spawned widespread fear of rays, which is totally ridiculous. Rays are not dangerous. There are only 17 deaths by stingray on record, and more people have been killed by just about everything else out there. I'm around rays all the time, and it's really hard to get one to attack you; you pretty much have to step on it, grab it, or make it feel really threatened (I never have). I don't know if Irwin harrassed the animal before it stung him, but I'm sure the details surrounding the incident will emerge as the footage is examined.
Not everyone agreed with Irwin's hands-on approach to wildlife interaction, but he was a great ambassador from the natural world. His shows have stirred up interest in animal life in a great many people, and he will definitely be missed.
Willy Volk over at Divester has written up a good article and summary about Steve Irwin's death. There is also an active discussion going on at Wetpixel. Wikipedia is also collecting a comprehensive collection of links and other information about his death.