Warm ocean temperatures and calm seas are attracting more stingrays than usual to Los Angeles County beaches. On Thursday and Friday alone, Los Angeles County lifeguards treated more than a dozen people who were stung by stingrays.
“We have seen countless stingrays throughout the Santa Monica Bay, with several causing stingray hits,” said Lifeguard Captain Kenichi Haskett of the Los Angeles County Fire Department Lifeguard Division. “When going into the ocean, shuffle your feet.”
Often found partially buried in shallow, sandy waters, stingrays are flat fish with eyes and nostrils on the top side of their bodies and mouths and gills on the underside. Their long tail has barbed spines that contain venom.
A stingray will lash its tail upwards when provoked. This action can puncture the skin and release venom into the victim. Victims say the pain is intense and radiates up the leg.
If you’re stung, notify a lifeguard immediately. A lifeguard will treat the sting with hot water to decrease the pain and clean the wound with antiseptic to avoid infection.
Fortunately, being stung is easy to avoid. Lifeguards recommend doing the “stingray shuffle” – shuffle your feet along the sandy bottom to alert stingrays to your presence so they have time to move away.
For more information, visit fire.lacounty.gov/lifeguard.