Dolphins Tales: Stingray shuffle
Our bottlenose dolphins are year-round residents in our local waters but share the waters from May to October with the southern stingrays. These flat, diamond-shaped fish feed in our warm waters and the sandy bottoms of the shallows. They have a mud brown, olive and grey dorsal surface and white underbelly. They are actually quite docile unless you step on them.
The stingray shuffle method of entering the water gives warning to the stingray. Slide your feet along the sand instead of taking big steps. The sliding movement alerts the stingrays and scares them away. Once you are swimming in deeper water you are OK.
The dangerous part of the stingray is its tail. The spinal blade is known as the stinger or barb. This stinger is covered with rows of sharp spines made of cartilage and is strong enough to pierce through the skin.
Personally, I have been stung three times.
Here are some tips if you are stung. 1) Elevate your foot and apply pressure directly to the area with a towel or cloth. 2) Do not soak your foot in the salt water. It will only feed the toxin. 3) Use peroxide, soap and water to clean the area. Hot water is best if available. 4) If necessary find the nearest urgent care facility.
Capt. Cathy Eagle has spent over 40 years boating in our local waters. As a professional charter captain she specializes in dolphin and nature tours. Visit CaptainCathy.com or call 239 994-2572.