Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Stingray season has begun on Pinellas beaches (w/video)

CLEARWATER — Local beachgoers know all too well the period from late spring to early fall called stingray season, because so many stings are reported during that stretch.

But experts say the timing is caused more by the movement of humans than that of stingrays.

"As far as seasonality goes, (stingrays) are here all year round," said Brent Winner of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "The water is warming up, bringing more people to the beach and in contact with stingrays."

Either way, consider the "season" under way. Fifteen visitors at Clearwater Beach were stung in one recent weekend alone.

Stingrays can be found in the waters off Pinellas County beaches any time of the year, so waders and swimmers must be wary regardless of the season.

Patrick Brafford, water safety supervisor of the Clearwater Beach Patrol, said the high number of stings recently is due to rapidly increasing water temperatures and flat, calm waters bringing the stingrays closer to shore, but also bringing large crowds to the beach.

Clearwater Beach reported a higher number than some other Pinellas beaches. In Treasure Island, beachgoers have reported about two or three a week. In St. Pete Beach, fire officials didn't have a number, but said there had not been many stings recently.

The typical stingray attack occurs when a person walking in the water steps on the stingray, causing the creature to lash out with its sharp, serrated barbed tail. Stingrays like to bury themselves in sand to escape predators, so they can be hard to spot, even in clear waters.

Experts say the best way to avoid being stung is to do the "stingray shuffle" by sliding your feet along the sand instead of taking normal steps. The vibrations alone are enough to scare away hidden stingrays.

People who get stung report the pain can be excruciating. The barb can puncture the skin and even break off and get stuck there, making the wound prone to infection.

Typical treatment involves cleaning and disinfecting the wound, then soaking it in hot water.

Brafford wants people to be informed about the dangers of stingrays and the need to do the shuffle, but he doesn't want them to be afraid to visit the beach.

"We don't want to freak people out, we don't want to scare people," he said. "We just want people to be aware."

Will Hicks can be reached at whicks@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4155.

Fifteen people were stung at Clearwater Beach on a recent weekend. The typical stingray attack occurs when a person steps on a stingray, causing it to lash out with its barbed tail.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

Fifteen people were stung at Clearwater Beach on a recent weekend. The typical stingray attack occurs when a person steps on a stingray, causing it to lash out with its barbed tail.

Stingray season has begun on Pinellas beaches (w/video) 05/06/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 10:29am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Report slams Pinellas construction licensing agency

    Local Government

    LARGO –– The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board mismanaged its finances, lacked accountability and violated its own rules, according to a scathing report released Wednesday by the county's inspector general.

    Rodney Fischer, the executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, resigned in January.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  2. Tampa driver dies after swerving off Interstate 4 into canal

    Accidents

    PLANT CITY — A Tampa driver swerved off Interstate 4 Wednesday morning, plunging into a canal in a fatal crash, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report.

  3. Editorial: Scott should keep demanding better for seniors in nursing homes

    Editorials

    The horrific story of elderly Floridians dying from the heat in a Broward County nursing home after surviving Hurricane Irma grows more outrageous. Even as a ninth death has been reported, the nursing home blames the state and has filed a lawsuit challenging Gov. Rick Scott's move to prevent it from accepting new …

    Even as a ninth death has been reported, the nursing home blames the state and has filed a lawsuit challenging Gov. Rick Scott’s move to prevent it from accepting new patients or Medicaid payments.
  4. DCF announces $133 million in federal aid for low-income families who lost food during Irma

    Hurricanes

    An additional $133 million is being distributed to Florida low-income families to help replace food destroyed by Hurricane Irma, the Florida Department of Children and Families announced today.

    The United States Department of Agriculture has made $133 million available to Florida low-income families to help them replace food damaged during Hurricane Irma
  5. A meatless burger that tastes like meat? Ciccio Restaurants will serve the Impossible Burger.

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA — The most red-hot hamburger in the nation right now contains no meat.

    Luis Flores, executive chef at Ciccio Restaurant Group, prepares an Impossible Burger at Epicurean Hotel's Food Theatre. Impossible Burger is a plant-based burger that will launch on Sept. 27, 2017 in all the Ciccio Restaurant Group locations, except for Fresh Kitchen. "This burger caters to the carnivorous, not just the vegetarians" said Jeff Gigante, co-founder at Ciccio Restaurant Group. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times