Steve Irwin’s television program The Crocodile Hunter may have made him an international television star, but it also made him very popular on the Internet… Including on YouTube. His death has inspired many of his fans and bloggers to pay tribute to their idol online.

At the time Irwin’s death was first announced on Monday, there were 4,200 videos tagged with the keyword phrase “Crocodile Hunter” on YouTube. These video clips were mostly a mix of TV segments featuring Irwin, amateur and professional imitators, and even a South Park Crocodile Hunter parody. But as of Wednesday night that number tripled to 15,040.

If you sort these search results by date added, the new Crocodile Hunter videos being posted on YouTube consist of news reports announcing his death as well as flurry of user generated tributes, one of which shown below. In fact, a Wednesday night search for the exact phrase “Steve Irwin Tribute” produced 529 results on YouTube. And many of these tribute videos have well over 500 user comments each. This age of user generated content is providing fans a way of expressing their grief and sharing it with others instantly online.

Here are just a few YouTube user comments from one of the tribute videos:

Rest in peace, Steve Irwin. Steve did so much good and was a great person. He died doing what he loved. I miss him already. Steve Irwin was the best. Mooneskygge

Im still not over his death, he was just one of those guys that i cant imagine as being gone… RpgBouncer

A very fitting tribute…I’m sure Steve would have appreciated it… He was the greatest, most dedicated conservationist in Australia…maybe even the world… Goodbye Steve, Le chasseur de crocodile. A legend. We will remember. ChioGaru

The outpouring of support and sympathy for Steve Irwin by bloggers and YouTube users is nothing short of stunning. But what if major iconic figures such as Martin Luther King, Kurt Cobain, Pope John Paul or John Lennon had just died today? How would the YouTube generation react and interact? Can you imagine all the digital tributes. Crikey!