When he was killed by a stingray yesterday, Steve Irwin was in the middle of filming a documentary about dangerous marine life in far North Queensland. Which means that his death was caught on tape.

The footage was promptly handed over to the police – and Cairns Police Superintendent Mike Keating says there’s “no evidence that Mr Irwin was intimidating or threatening the stingray, my advice is that he was observing the stingray”.

There’s been no decision as to what will happen to the footage and whether it will be released to the media — or surface regardless on sites like YouTube.com. In the meantime, Irwin’s friend and producer John Stainton has provided a pretty graphic account of its contents.

“It’s a very hard thing to watch because you’re actually witnessing somebody die … and it’s terrible,” said Stainton, who said the footage shows Irwin pulling the stingray’s barb out of his chest before losing consciousness.

 “Steve came over the top of the ray and the tail came up, and spiked him here (in the chest), and he pulled it out and the next minute he’s gone. That was it. The cameraman had to shut down.”

Stainton believes Irwin died almost instantly.

“There was no blood in the water, it was not that obvious, ” says boat owner Peter West, who viewed the footage afterwards, according to The Oz. “Something happened with this animal that made it rear and he was at the wrong position at the wrong time and if it hit him anywhere else we would not be talking about a fatality.”