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The Stingray Shuffle

How to Prevent and Treat Stingray Attacks

Stingrays can make a beautiful day at the beach go from “lots of fun” to “none” really quickly! Stingrays are a flat, sand-colored ray, averaging about 6 inches along their back. They are bottom-feeding fish that live and breed in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico between the months of April and October.

Fast facts

Stingrays aren’t typically an aggressive fish, but if they feel threatened they will use the poisonous stinger on their tails to sting their “attacker”…usually in the ankle or foot.  The ray’s stinger is on the spine of its tail, near the base of its body.  It’s made of dentin, a bony substance similar to teeth, and is covered in skin. The poison is used to paralyze small fish for an easy capture by a hungry Stingray.  For humans, the pain is intense and there is no mistaking when you are the victim of a Stingray attack.

The best way to prevent an attack is to warn the Stingrays you are coming into the water by sliding your feet across the sand.  This little trick is used by locals and vacationers up and down the Gulf Coast.  Stirring and kicking up the sand a little sends out vibrations to warn the stingray that you are entering the water.  Typically they will just swim away and look for a quieter place to hang out. Without the shuffle, they are going to defend themselves and fight back if provoked!

Taking action

In the case that you do get stung, get to the beach as quick as possible.  Do not panic because it will only increase your circulation, thus aiding in the movement of the toxin through your body.  The poison is what causes the pain from a sting, not the impact of the spine on the foot or leg.  Get to your vacation home, or to the nearest lifeguard or fire station to treat it.

The only thing you can do for the pain is to soak the sting in hot water, as hot as you can stand without burning yourself.  You can take Ibuprofen, but it’s not advisable to take Asprin, as it thins the blood and allows the toxin to travel faster.  Soak the foot until it feels significantly better.  It will most likely take a good 24-48 hours for the pain to go away completely, but it should feel dramatically better.  A little swelling is normal, and be sure to keep the wound clean.  If something feels like it’s out of the ordinary, see a doctor as soon as possible.

Here at Naples Florida Vacation Homes, we want you to have a great vacation – but we want you to have a safe one even more!

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