Stingray stab kills swimmer off beach

A swimmer has died after a stab to his stomach in a suspected stingray attack off an Australian beach, in a rare fatal encounter with the fish. [Courtesy]

A swimmer has died after a stab to his stomach in a suspected stingray attack off an Australian beach, in a rare fatal encounter with the fish.

The 42-year-old's death came more than a decade after world-renowned "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin was killed when a stingray barb punctured his chest while he was filming on the famed Great Barrier Reef.

The man was in waters off Lauderdale Beach some 23 kilometres (14 miles) from Hobart in the southern island state of Tasmania on Saturday when he "sustained a puncture wound to his lower abdomen... possibly inflicted by a marine animal", police said.

He was brought onto the beach by friends but suffered a heart attack and was unable to be resuscitated, police added.

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"It's consistent with (a stingray injury) but further investigation and examination of the deceased may be able to give a bit more of a concrete fact on that," Tasmania Police Senior Constable Brett Bowering told the Sunday Tasmanian.

"It's a pretty traumatic incident to see."

Locals told the Tasmanian the man swam frequently at the beach.

Commonly found in tropical waters, stingrays are a flattish, diamond-shaped fish that rarely attack humans

But their barbs, at the end of their tails, are coated in toxic venom which they use to defend themselves when threatened.

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Most injuries result from people stepping on them in shallow water and getting a barb in the ankle, experts say.

stingray attackAustralia"Crocodile Hunter"Steve IrwinGreat Barrier Reefstingray barbTasmania