Stingrays are not aggressive animals and are easily frightened. Unfortunately, they often bury themselves in the sand in shallow water for protection from predators. This is when they are most hazardous. If accidentally stepped on by a hapless wader, stingrays flip their tail, which has a barb at the end, up towards the wader. If the barb comes into contact with a foot, ankle, or other part of the body, the barb can penetrate the skin and venom enters the wound. The sting of the stingray is very painful and usually requires immediate medical attention both to alleviate the pain and to clean the wound to prevent infection. If you are stung by a stingray, seek help from a lifeguard immediately. If you are on an unguarded beach, soak the affected area in hot water until the pain subsides and then seek medical attention. Stingrays are common along the beaches of Southern California.
Luckily, there are a few simple things that you can do to insure that you don’t get stung by one. First, always swim in the designated swimming area. Stingrays usually stay clear of areas where there is a lot of swimming activity. Second, shuffle your feet when walking in the water. As mentioned earlier, stingrays are a very non-aggressive animal and only sting when they are stepped on. By shuffling your feet, you can insure that you never step down on a ray, dramatically decreasing your chances of getting stung. Lastly, always watch where you step when entering the ocean. Follow these rules, and you probably won’t get stung.
Jellyfish are actually not a single fish, but a colony of small animals called hydroids which appear to be a single animal. Most Jellyfish are free swimming, colorless, and range in size from a few inches to three feet in diameter. Their appearance on the beaches of Southern California is seasonal and infrequent, and only a few persons are stung by jellyfish on beaches each year. A person gets stung by a jellyfish when they come in contact with the jellyfish’s tentacles, which are used by the jellyfish to immobilize and catch prey. The sting of the jellyfish is much like that of a bee or a wasp. It is painful but in most cases is not medically serious. (Persons with known allergies should be monitored for signs of allergic reaction.) If you are stung by a jellyfish, seek help from the lifeguards who will be able to help reduce the pain of the sting, but stay calm and remember that a jellyfish sting is usually not a serious medical condition.