Alright alright so you see the title of this blog, “Stingray Shuffle”, and you think to yourself, ”Is this a blog about a new dance move?” or maybe “Is it a blog about a sting ray migration?”. Well, if you were hoping for either of those two things, I’m sorry to disappoint you. I am writing this blog to inform you about the sting rays in San Diego and how to avoid being stung. I will also include what to do if you are stung.
Let’s start out with a quick reminder that the ocean is the stingray’s home. When we (beach goers) enter the water, we are entering their home. Stingrays love warm water which is why we tend to see them most during the summer months. In water as shallow as 10 or 12 inches, stingrays hide by burying themselves under a thin layer of sand, trying to remain unnoticed. They travel in schools and like to come up to shore between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., which is also when most people come to the beach. Now imagine if you were laying on the beach sunbathing and someone was running to the water and stepped on your arm or even your face for that matter. I would certainly be pretty pissed if that happened to me. The stingrays aren’t out to get you, they just sting you as a defense mechanism if you hurt them.
Some genius back in the day came up with the “stingray shuffle” to help prevent these accidents. The shuffle is simply moving your feet along the sea floor instead on taking steps that involve lifting your foot. The shuffling sends vibrations that scare away stingrays in the immediate vicinity, thus you won’t accidentally step on one. The idea is to push the sand forward and cause a disturbance that displaces the stingray without you stepping on it. If you accidentally step on the stingray, when you try to get away, the barb will get you.
Everyone has a different pain tolerance obviously, so there’s no telling you exactly how painful it will be if you get stung. Some stings are worse than others. Most people have explained that if feels like a sharp pinch or like you stepped on broken glass. You will notice a small cut where the barb hit you and it will most likely be bleeding.
The procedure for a stingray sting is to submerge the wounded area in extremely hot water to neutralize the toxins for about an hour and a half. You may experience a burning sensation up your leg if the barb penetrated deep. This is normal. Although it is rare, head to the emergency room if the stingray leaves part of a barb behind. Do not attempt to remove it yourself. Every lifeguard tower should be fully equipped with buckets and warm water to take care of you.
Our surf school is also equipped with the material and personnel to aid anyone stung by a stingray. At Pacific Surf School each instructor will go over the shuffle and stingray safety with you during your “land lesson”. I hope this blog answered any questions you may have had and informed you as to what to do if you get stung by our sand friends.