Staying Away From the Stingray

Treading through salt and fresh water, stingrays are no strangers to the Florida Coast, but do you know what to do, or not do, to stay safe of them? Florida's coast is home to a variety of stingrays.

Doug Glesson says he's been stung many times.

"The first pain you feel is actually the venom; that hurts. After that it's a throbbing pain when I get back to the boat and it's over and done with,” says fisherman Glesson.

Television's popular Steve Irwin, better known as the "Crocodile Hunter," was killed by a stingray in Australia Monday. The stingray pierced his chest when Irwin swam on top of it, which experts say is a big no-no.

"The animal felt threatened and it felt that it was about to be attacked. It probably felt that a big shark was coming over to grab it. That's its only form of defense,” explained Jack Rudloe, Director of Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory.

Stingrays often have two barbs, or stingers. The poison is in the serrated edges and the special skin that covers it. The stingray usually leaves the barb in its victim. Doing the "Stingray Shuffle" can be a helpful tip for beach-goers. That's when you drag your feet in the sand to keep from stepping on a stingray.

"You're in a much better chance of scaring the animal off before it will sting you,” Rudloe adds.

Stingrays are not aggressive creatures, but experts say leaving them alone is the best way to avoid getting stung. If you are ever attacked by a stingray, experts say to pour hot water on the wound if possible and seek medical attention.