Stingrays are often linked back to the tragic death of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin in 2006, but many people don't know much about these unassuming animals. Stingrays are generally shy creatures and are only aggressive and dangerous if they feel like they've been threatened. They have long, thin tails with one to three barbed venomous blades which can pierce the skin of their attacker. Often stingrays can be accidentally stepped on when a person is in the water or if out diving. They can become threatened if you invade their space, so it's best to keep your distance.

Common symptoms of a sting

  • Severe pain in the area where you were stung or the pain may be felt elsewhere around the body as it can spread rapidly.

  • Fainting

  • Fatigue

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Anxiety

  • Sweating

  • Cramps

  • Swelling of the wound

  • Bleeding of the wound

  • Edges of the wound may be discoloured

  • Secondary infections if the wound is not cleaned or debrided properly.

What to do if you get stung

Although stingrays have venom in their tail, the trauma of the injury is usually more severe than the venom-mediated effects. First aid may be required to control bleeding, and resuscitation may also be required if the individual has any thoracic or abdominal injuries.

If the individual is stable, washing the wound site and immersing it in hot water for a maximum duration of 90 minutes is recommended. It's also important not to pull the stinger out. Instead, allow a medical professional to remove it, as this will avoid making the injury worse.

It is integral that with all stingray injuries the person seeks immediate medical attention, as all penetrating marine injuries must be reviewed so that any emerging infections can be treated early.

How to prevent getting stung by a stingray

  • Respect their space and avoid stingray habitats.

  • Do the Stingray Shuffle:

    • When walking in shallow water, keep a lookout for stingrays as if you accidentally step on one, it can flip up its tail and sting you with it.

    • Do the stingray shuffle to make sure they know you're around by placing your feet firmly on the ground and sliding your feet slowly through the sand. This will safely encourage any stingrays to move away.

  • Divers should avoid swimming too close to the sea floor.

You can contact one of Sonder's team members 24/7 if you have any questions about these types of stings. Due to the seriousness of these stings, which can cause complications and/or death, it's important you seek medical treatment with a doctor or call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.


If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime, in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app.

Information sourced from: Posion.org, Healthline, MSD Manual, LiveAbout.com, Good Living, and NPS

Image credit: Fernando Jorge on Unsplash

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.

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