Ten to 15 people enjoying the warmer waters on a Californian beach were met with a nasty surprise on June 11 when stung by the fish with a poisonous tail.
The incident happened at the beach in Coronado after 4 p.m. Lifeguards told KGTV that it is common to witness more stingrays in shallow waters at this time of the year due to the warmer water, but it is rare to sight to have so many stings on the same day.
California’s coast is home to the California round ray that feeds in the shallow waters. The stingrays camouflage themselves by burying in the sand to hunt. This makes it difficult for beachgoers to spot them.
A stingray’s venom is not always life-threatening, but is extremely painful. Stings have been known to be fatal when major organs, such as the heart, are affected. However, cell death caused by the venom can result in amputation if not treated in time.
“It feels like fire, like my foot is on fire. And it hurts so bad,” Alexis Andujo, one of the injured beachgoers, told KGTV, a local ABC affiliate.
To treat stingray injuries, victims can soak their feet in hot, but not scalding, water as heat breaks down the venom’s enzymes. Sea Grant California recommends rushing to a doctor if pain persists after 15 minutes of soaking.
Authorities later raised purple flags on the beach to warn beachgoers of the stingrays.
— Johnny Brightman (@Johnnybrightman) June 12, 2019
Captain Joe Bailey with the Seal Beach Lifeguards in Orange County told Sea Grant California that to prevent stingray attacks, beachgoers should drag their feet as they walk in submerged sand.
This “stingray shuffle” pushes sand forward to cause disturbances that help frighten away stingrays.
“If you step on it, when you try to get away—that’s when they get the barb in you,” Treasure Island fire Lt. Jeff Logsdon told the Tampa Bay Times.