MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The Myrtle Beach Fire Department responded to more stingray related injuries in three weeks time than all of last summer combined.
“There might be more people in town, so there’s more people in the water. So, they’re [stingrays] coming in to more contact, more chances,” said Senior Aquarist Shannon Hughes at Ripley’s Aquarium.
“Also it might have been a good year for the rays, so there could actually be more of them in the water too. A combination between the two or anything like that could explain why there’s actually more stings happening.”
The fire department has used eight stingray kits to treat injuries since the end of May.
“The kit is like a two bag system that allows us to remotely heat water to assist with the pain. The best way to treat it initially is to immerse the foot, usually that gets effected, into hot water,” said Battalion Chief Brian Mitchell.
“Usually about as hot as they can stand and that seems to lessen the pain.”
Stings from rays are venomous but are not deadly. The sting will cause an intense burning sensation.
Hot water helps break up the venom in a sting wound and help relieve pain.
Experts suggest shuffling your feet close together when walking in and out of the ocean to alert nearby stingrays.
“You don’t want to pick your feet up. You just kind of want to slide them along as you’re entering and exiting the water,” said Mitchell.
Both Mitchell and Hughes call the technique the “stingray shuffle” and explain that stingrays only attack when they need to defend themselves.