South Carolina

Stingray attacks prompt warning at SC beach

These are likely cownose stingrays, according to a retired state marine scientist. They were photographed schooling Braddock's Cove.
These are likely cownose stingrays, according to a retired state marine scientist. They were photographed schooling Braddock's Cove. PHOTO SUBMITTED BY MARY SHERMAN

If you're going into the ocean on the South Carolina coast this week, it's advised that you do the "stingray shuffle."

Shore Beach Service on Hilton Head Island reports that it saw about 20 to 30 stingray wounds over Memorial Day weekend, about the same number as it experienced last year.

The service recommends people shuffle their feet in the water to avoid stepping on the stingrays, which bury themselves in the sand, beach patrol director Ralph Wagner said. Instead of picking up your feet and placing them down, drag your feet along the bottom as you walk.

Lifeguards typically treat about 450 stings each year, with spikes in injuries in the spring and fall, Wagner said.

"All of a sudden, we have a lot more people in the water," Wagner said.

The service placed caution flags on the beach Tuesday to alert swimmers of the dangers.

The injuries are not usually serious, though a sting "hurts like heck," Wagner said.

Lifeguards treat the wounds by stopping the bleeding from the stingray's barb, then apply heat to draw out the venom.

Occasionally, victims need to visit the emergency room to have a barb removed.

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