Singapore Underwater World diver killed by stingray

SENTOSA, Singapore,  A professional diver was killed by a stingray at an oceanarium that closed three months ago in Singapore.

Stingrays are commonly found in tropical waters and their barbs, at the end of their tails, are coated in toxic venom, are used to defend themselves when threatened. Photo by Vicki L. Miller/Shutterstock

Philip Chan, 62, was heading a team of divers removing sea creatures from the Underwater World attraction when he was injured Tuesday afternoon.

Chan was taken to hospital where he died from his injuries, police said.

“Preliminary findings indicate that a worker was pierced in his chest by the barb of a stingray while he was in the midst of transferring the stingray from its tank,” Manpower Ministry said in a statement.

Underwater World opened in May 1991 but closed last June. Its animals were being moved to a Chinese aquarium, but operations were suspended because of the incident on orders from the Ministry of Manpower. It included about 2,500 marine animals from 250 species, and some 30 million people visited the exhibits, according to Haw Paw Par Corporation on its website.

Underwater World lost attendance to newer attractions on the same Sentosa island, including a bigger aquarium and water adventure park.

“Mr. Chan was one of 10 staff who stayed on to care for the animals while suitable homes were being found,” a spokesperson said. “He was a veteran diver, aquarist and animal caregiver who had been caring for the aquatic animals since Underwater World’s opening.”

Wildlife conservation expert Steve Irwin was struck in the chest and killed by a stingray in 2006 during a diving expedition off the Great Barrier Reef.

Their razor-sharp barbs at the end of their tails are coated in toxic venom.

By Allen Cone