Biology  | Reproduction | Ecology | Human Interaction

Why is a stingray a stingray?

This group of fishes is characterized by having a poisonous barb located on their tail. They use this barb to defend themselves against predators.

How do I avoid getting stung?

The best way to avoid being stung is to avoid stepping on a ray. To do this shuffle your feet in the water, donít step! You may also want to avoid areas where rays are known to aggregate (i.e. areas of water that is warmer than that of the surrounding areas).

Why does it hurt so much when I get stung?

Barb can reach up to 41mm
The spine has membrane coating and within this membrane are cells that contain a toxin. When the spine penetrates the skin of its victim, the membrane is ruptured, releasing the toxin into the victim. The toxin causes intense pain and swelling and is likened to that of a bee sting, only magnified 100-fold. This toxin is a heat-sensitive protein and, therefore, it can be denatured through the application of heat. The spine also has many small barbs or teeth, which may cause additional tissue damage as the spine is removed.

If I get stung what do I do?

Here are the steps to take if you happen to get stung by a stingray:

Let the wound bleed this help to remove foreign particles which may have entered with the spine)

Put injured appendage in hot water, as hot as the patient can stand for approximately 45 minutesThis denatures the protein toxin and relieves a majority of the pain.

Notify lifeguard on-duty of incident.
Treat wound as any other puncture wound or cut, keep clean and bandage.

Reduces the chance of infection, promotes healing.

If pain or bleeding persists, if wound is large or if patient shows signs

of an allergic reaction, see a doctor IMMEDIATELY!

And remember it is YOUR fault that you get stung, the stingray is only protecting itself

more information on current stingray research


Last Updated: Friday, 03-Dec-2004 00:27:28 PST                                                  Copyrighted Sharklab 1999-2004