The Stingray is a non-aggressive and fairly docile animal

Ribbon tailed ray



Most, if not all injuries, received from a Stingray are as a result of a defensive reaction by the ray to being stepped on or handled. In spite of this there are over 1500 injuries, from these creatures, reported per year in the United States.

Blue spotted ray

The Stingray will generally lie motionless while scuba divers are close and if they feel threatened, will simply swim away.

Quite often some species of ray will move freely around divers while scuba divers approach in very close proximity. There are at least seventy species known to man.

The Ray is a relative of the Shark and shares many of the characteristics of a shark. The main characteristic being the cartilaginous body structure.

The Stingray is found in most temperate waters of the world, with some freshwater species (which have become increasingly rare as their habitat is increasingly harmed and/or encroached upon).

The Ray’s body has a flattened profile with ‘wings’ which are in fact their pectoral fins and then the long tail which has a part to play in the name of the Stingray, in that the tail has a barb located on it which it uses as a defensive weapon.

Stingray barb

The stinger can be as long as 35cm, depending on the species, with two grooves underneath it which contain the venom glands within a sheath of thin skin.

The venom was used in ancient times as an anesthetic.

The Ray’s mouth, gills and nostrils are all located underneath the body, with sensors called The Ampullae of Lorenzini which are small organs filled with a gel-like substance called mucopolysacharides.

These organs also serve as electroreception organs which are capable of detecting the electrical fields generated by moving animals as well as the electrical fields created by the Earth's magnetic fields of the sea floor. These electro-receptive capabilities assist in prey detection and navigation.

The Stingrays’ size ranges from palm size to 6 foot wide and 14 foot long (including their tail). They feed usually, on molluscs, small crustaceans and fish. Some feed on plankton.
Their movement in the water is very graceful and much like flying. Seeing a group of Rays underwater is like seeing a flock of large and exotic birds flying through the air.

Rays are commonly found in the shallow coastal waters of temperate seas.

Thie lifespan is anything from 15 to 25 years.

Symptoms of poisoning:

A sting from this animal produces immediate sharp pain that peaks in intensity over 1-2 hours and may last as long as 48 hours. The area of the injury may become swollen and red. Other symptoms that may develop include:

  • Fever.
  • Chills.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Tremors.
  • Paralysis.
  • Seizures.
  • Decreased blood pressure.
The death of the Australian naturalist, Steve Irwin, it is fairly obvious that an encounter can be fatal. In spite of this it is rare and usually only in the case of children when the stinger has penetrated the chest or abdomen.

First Aid

  • Flush the wound with fresh water to remove any and all debris.
  • Scrubbing the affected area with soap and fresh water, and removal of all stingers with tweezers.
  • Soaking the affected area in as hot water as can be tolerated without scalding.
  • Antibiotics may be prescribed for infection prevention.
  • Medications for pain control.


To read about more poisonous fish like the Stingray, click here


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