Ever hear of the stingray shuffle? Well, on the Gulf of Mexico, you need to know about it to avoid getting a painful sting at the beach. People are all over the beaches enjoying the warmer water and intense sunshine. Dunedin Causeway, Clearwater Beach, Honeymoon Island State Park, Caladesi Island State Park, and all of the other beautiful beaches in the area are full of happy couples, families enjoying their children, and tourists visiting. While you are at the beach, make sure you know all about the Stingray Shuffle.
These docile, curious creatures are not out to get you, and their stingers are used exclusively in self-defense. They just don’t like being stomped on. If they get stepped on, they go into the self-defense mode.
Stingrays are a cartilaginous fish related to the shark family. Most of their species are endangered.
Stingrays are typically found in the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico in shallow waters. They spend most of their time inactive, and they bury themselves partially in the sand. They move with the sway of the tide.
Their coloration looks like the seafloor’s shading which camouflages them from predatory sharks and larger rays. Stingrays have a flat body and are composed of pectoral fins joined to their head and trunk with a long tail trailing behind.
A stingray’s eyes peer out from its dorsal side. Their mouth, nostrils, and gill slits are situated on its underbelly. The stingray has electrical sensors called ampullae of Lorenzini, which is located around their mouth similar to its shark relatives. These electrical sensors sense the natural electrical charges of potential prey or people stepping on them. Many rays have jaw teeth to enable them to crush mollusks such as clams, oysters, and mussels.
Stingrays usually are not aggressive. Typically they act kind and gentle around humans, but a run-in with a stingray has the potential to be deadly. If a stingray feels threatened, that is when you have a reason to worry.
Depending on the size of the stingray, humans are usually stung in the lower limb region. When swimmers or divers accidentally step on a stingray, that is often when a sting occurs.
The stingray’s barb or spine has serrated edges and a sharp point. Their underside can produce venom, which can be fatal to humans.
There’s an easy way to avoid being stung by a stingray. Because stingrays bury themselves in the sand only inches from the shore, you’ll what to shuffle your feet as you walk along the bottom. They will feel your vibrations and move, so you do not step on them.
The protein on their stinger is similar to that of a bee sting. If you are allergic to bee stings, there is a good chance that you will have the same reaction with a stingray sting. A few people have severe reactions and need immediate medical attention. Start practicing the stingray shuffle and enjoy the Gulf!
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