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Warm weather brings stingray alert

CLEARWATER — With warm weather and calm waters this week, a handful of beachgoers are getting stung by stingrays each day on Clearwater Beach. Lifeguards are advising visitors to continue doing the "stingray shuffle," shuffling their feet in the sand when entering the water.

"We've treated four people today. We've had four to eight people stung each day this week," said Patrick Brafford, water safety supervisor for the Clearwater Beach Patrol.

Not every local beach is reporting the same problem. Treasure Island, for instance, isn't seeing any increased stingray activity, fire Chief Bill Mallory said.

In Clearwater, Brafford said the high number of stings this week is due to water temperatures staying warm as well as flat, calm waters bringing stingrays closer to shore. This last shot of warm weather before the inevitable fall cool-down is also bringing visitors to the beach.

"The water is extremely calm. We don't anticipate any change until we get another front that moves through," he said. "That will disturb the water, make it rough and choppy."

At Clearwater Beach, purple flags are being posted to warn people when stingrays are near.