Stingrays frequently can be found in the warm shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico during the months of May through October. They come close to shore in search of food and bury themselves in the sand. You don’t want to step on a stingray – the result could be a painful sting. In order to prevent this it is important to do the “Stingray Shuffle” when entering the water of Southwest Florida’s beaches. By shuffling your feet across the sandy bottom you can alert the stingray of your presence, they will uncover themselves and swim away. Stingrays don’t want to be stepped on anymore than you want to be stung!
How does one do the “Stingray Shuffle” you might ask? It doesn’t require any fancy dance moves.
Here are some simple instructions to help you master the “Stingray Shuffle”
• Enter the water naturally until it covers the top of your feet.
• Without lifting your feet from the sandy bottom, slide or shuffle them forward one at a time. Do this until you reach your destination in the water.
What should you do if you happen to step on a stingray and get stung?
Victims of stingray stings should seek medical attention. Head to the lifeguard stand when possible. If there isn’t one available try a nearby home, hotel or restaurant.
First aid for stingray stings involves:
• Flushing the wound with fresh water if possible.
• Soaking the affected area in hot water (as hot as can be tolerated without causing burns). The heat will offer immediate pain relief. This can be done for 1-2 hours. Most lifeguard stands have buckets and hot water on hand for stingray accidents.
• Although it is rare for a stingray to leave part of a barb behind, head to the emergency room. Do not attempt to remove it yourself.
If the victim shows any signs of an allergic reaction: difficulty breathing, tightness in the throat, itching, nausea, fast pulse, dizziness, or loss of consciousness – DIAL 911.