Philip Chan, a senior staff at the Underwater World Singapore (UWS), has died after getting stung in the chest by a stingray. The incident happened yesterday (4 Oct) afternoon as the 62-year-old was preparing some animals for transfer to a new aquarium.

UWS and the Dolphin Lagoon were closed on 26 Jun after 25 years of service. Philip was was one of the 10 UWS staff who was retained after the theme park’s closure. The senior supervisor of the Curatorial Department helped to for the animals which were being transferred to new overseas facilities.

According to a media statement from Haw Par Corporation which ran UWS, was “injured in the chest by a stingray” and died from his injury a few hours later at the Singapore General Hospital. The company described Philip as “veteran diver, aquarist and animal caregiver who had been caring for the aquatic animals at UWS since its opening in 1991”.

Condolences has started to pour in as news of his death was announced. One Facebook user Jack Png, described Philip as a “truly inspirational man”.

Renee Lim described him as “the pillar who stood strong and tall since day one of laying the aquarium’s foundations, unwavering throughout the quarter century, always patient to guide us all and to steer us clear of unchartered waters.”

While Alfred Lim said Philip inspired him and many others who worked with him “about work and life”.

Saying he was shaken by the news Alfred added that Philip was “a true leader, mentor and dear friend of all of us who we called Abang.”

picture credit: Alfred Lim
picture credit: Alfred Lim

Several others who commented on the news said that it reminded them about the death of Steve Irwin, the Australian wildlife conservationist who died in a freak accident in 2006 while he was swimming near a stingray in shallow waters.