No, we are not kidding, most full-time Florida residents are familiar with the Stingray Shuffle.

Stingrays tend to congregate along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico more in late May and early June. They can be seen in very shallow, warm water (less than one foot deep). The rays are well camouflaged and often difficult to see unless they are on the move. They bury themselves in the sand.

The fish has a sharp tail barb, coated in potent venom. Stepping on a stingray is the most common way people are injured by these fish. Being stuck by a stingray spine can be very painful, it is rarely life threatening.

To avoid such an encounter with the ray, shuffle or drag your feet through the sand as you enter the water. Try to make a bit of a disturbance as you walk, you will be sending out a series of vibrations that warn any nearby stingray of your presence, and it should move out of your way.

Most beaches with a lifeguard station will post a purple flag (Dangerous Marine Life), if there is an abundance of rays present. It is always good practice to take a look at the lifeguard station as you arrive at the beach.

If you do happen to get stung by a ray, first wash off the wound with cool salt water. Check to make sure the stinger is not still in your foot. If so, remove it so the poison will not keep irritating you. Then soak the foot for an hour or so in very warm fresh water (over 113 degrees). The hot water reduces the effect of the venom. Pain can last a day or longer. As with any puncture type wound, infection is always a possibility; a visit to an emergency care facility is a good idea.

If a person shows severe pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or loss of consciousness, call 911 immediately. They may be suffering from an allergic reaction.

Don’t let this information deter you from enjoying Florida beaches. Millions of folks swim and play in the Gulf every year without incident. Just be aware of your surroundings and do the Stingray Shuffle.



FOG sez:

I’m pretty clumsy, for me, the stingray shuffle becomes the stingray stumble.