'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin's manager has revealed the video footage capturing the wildlife experts dying was "shocking". Irwin, 44, was fatally injured when a stingray pierced his chest with its poisonous barbed tail, while filming a documentary in Australia's Great Barrier Reef yesterday.

His manager John Stainton said the film - a copy of which was given to the state coroner investigating the incident - made for painful watching. He said at a press conference today: "It shows that Steve came over the top of the ray and the tail came up, and spiked him here in the chest. He pulled it out and the next minute he's gone. The cameraman had to shut down.

"He always pushed himself to the very limits but I thought he was invulnerable and I think he did too. It's a very hard thing to watch because you're actually witnessing somebody die... it's terrible."

Tributes have been flooding in for the world-famous animal lover, who left behind 42-year-old wife Terri, and two children - eight-year-old daughter Bindi and son Bob, two.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard interrupted parliament today to pay his respects. He said: "He was a genuine, one-off remarkable Australian individual and I am distressed at his death."

Fellow Australian, actor Russell Crowe described Irwin as the "ultimate wildlife warrior". He added: "He was the Australian we all aspire to. He touched my heart."

Stingrays, nicknamed the "pussycats of the sea", are usually placid creatures and only attack in self-defence, Irwin was only the third known stingray death in Australian waters.

The Queensland government is considering a state funeral for Irwin.