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sting ray injuries #78482
01/13/04 01:14 PM
01/13/04 01:14 PM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 80,387
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP
This is good info, came off the Caye Caulker Message Board...


I just want to share an experience I had on Caye Caulker while I was there over the holidays. I hope that people who are traveling to the Caye will keep this in mind and be careful and prepared..
On Chrismas Day, 2003, I had the unfortunate experience to step on a stingray and be ‘stung’ in the ankle/foot area. When stepped on, the tail of the stingray (which is equipped with a barb (or barbs) and venom will snap up and puncture you. Any of you who have been to Caye Caulker know these stingrays - they are all over the place. Their bodies are about the size of a salad or dinner plate, and their coloring is mottled. They are very beautiful creatures, actually. You can usually see quite a few of them on the dock over by the Split. Anyway, apparently one of the most common mistakes that people make when wading in shallow water where rays live is in the way they walk. You are supposed to 'shuffle' slowly. That way, if there are rays burrowed invisibly under the sand, your 'shuffle' should scare the rays away before you have the misfortune to step on them.

You can look on the Internet for anecdotes about how horrible it is to be stung by one of these things. Suffice it to say that the pain was unimaginable, and in addition to the pain, I experienced a sort of hyperventilation, increased heart rate, nausea, and just plain panic. I sincerely hope that none of the readers have this experience.

However, if you do, I'd like to share with you what I have learned since this happened to me. First, despite the friendliness of the policemen and others who helped me out after this happened, they had no clue about how to treat it properly. They suggested meat tenderizer, urine, and the common things recommended for jellyfish stings. This is NOT what you are supposed to do for stingray injuries. I have since learned that you should get the injury clean as soon as possible, then immerse it in the hottest water that you can stand. Since I didn't know this, I suffered through that unbearable pain for hours. Apparently the hot water treatment denatures the protein in the venom, and if you keep your foot (or whatever body part has been stung) in the hot water, the pain will go away within 60-90 minutes. (You need to keep freshening up the hot water to keep it hot). Today it has been two weeks since my injury, and I am still having pain. In contrast, I have heard that this hot water treatment can make the person virtually pain free after an hour or two. I have also heard that adding a little bit of bleach to the water can help, but I have only heard this (and not read it anywhere).

Also, most of the websites I've checked out recommend that you get to a doctor. For one, you may have pieces of the barb or venom sack still in you (and you may need them removed and start a course of antibiotics). Also, you may need help for pain control. You also need to make sure you have an updated tetanus shot. Finally, there are reports of fatal stingray injuries due to allergic reactions or punctures to the chest. So, I think that you should take this a lot more seriously than I did and get yourself off the Caye and back into the city to a proper doctor.

So my point here is this: Caye Caulker authorities and locals are unprepared for what happened to me. Not only was the nurse's clinic not open that day, but people who really should have known better gave me well-intentioned, but incorrect advice. Due to the abundance of these rays around the Caye, pepole really need to know about this.

I had a great time on Caye Caulker despite this experience, but I do not want this to happen to anyone else. I don’t need or expect any replies to this posting, I would just appreciate if the information would get into the correct hands so that more people are informed about what to do. Ideally, everyone would shuffle when wading and this will never come up, but stingray injuries are inevitable and we need to be prepared.

Re: sting ray injuries #78483
01/13/04 01:32 PM
01/13/04 01:32 PM
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 231
Prairie Village, Kansas USA
diveron Offline
diveron  Offline
Thanks for the info Marty. Sorry you had to find out this way! Hope you feel better soon.


Re: sting ray injuries #78484
01/13/04 01:53 PM
01/13/04 01:53 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,429
dogmatic prevaricator Offline
dogmatic prevaricator  Offline
I knew someone that was body surfing in Acapulco and landed on a ray, and was stung on the side of his chest. The immediate application of heat does renders the rays venom inert, and reduces the pain. In his case, a local passerby scooped hot sand on the wound until he could get to other heat sources and medical attention.

If you must choose between two evils, pick the one you've never tried before.
Re: sting ray injuries #78485
01/13/04 03:22 PM
01/13/04 03:22 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 17
Byhalia, MS, USA
Mississippi Joel Offline
Mississippi Joel  Offline
I feel your pain. I stepped on a stingray off Sanibel Island once. It was very painful. The treatment you describe(hot water,tetanus shot, and inspecting for imbedded barb}is exactly what they did to me at the Florida hospital. Only thing is that I seem to remember it hurting much more than a couple of hours. They also put me on antibiotics as you mentioned. Shuffle your feet. It works!

Re: sting ray injuries #78486
01/13/04 06:32 PM
01/13/04 06:32 PM
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 50
Bev Offline
Bev  Offline
What memories that story brought back (gazing down at the scar on the inside of my heel)...1989, on a sailing trip up & down the coast of Belize, anchored offshore an uninhabited island (Ranguana Caye, perhaps), went snorkling by myself, strode back to shore thru the seagrass & WHAM!! Had no idea what I'd stepped on but mother of God, it hurt. Hopped to the beach & collapsed, trying to be a brave Canadian farmgirl & not cry as I watched my blood pump out of my foot. Figured I'd stepped on a buried conchshell. My Belizean partner finally missed wandered over to see what the problem was. "Gyal, ya been juked by a stingray! Put out your foot." He proceeded to urinate on the puncture wound (amazing aim, now that I think about it), providing immediate relief from the increasing pain. Also slowed the bleeding. Just glad he didn't feel the need to write his name...

Made our way to where he had dinner cooking on the fire, and laid down on the blanket. Leg started to swell and turn blue from heel to knee. Felt woozy and certain I was going to die on that island. Oh, did I mention the engine in the sailboat was busted and the sun was setting? Took a Percodan & entrusted my life to the gods. Last thing I remember before passing out was Mr. Man peeing on my foot again. Restless sleep, much tossing & turning...Mr. Man right there, holding me tight, making sure I didn't roll into the sea.

Woke up with the sun, swelling gone and a nasty puncture wound that bled everytime I tried to walk. Carried out to the sailboat like a princess. Arrived back on Caye Caulker that night, dealt with infection for a couple of weeks, and now have a round scar that, if pressed upon, still issues forth a painful reminder to never walk barefoot in Belizean seagrass.


Re: sting ray injuries #78487
01/13/04 11:28 PM
01/13/04 11:28 PM
Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 2,532
Short Offline
Short  Offline
The best thing to do would have been to go to the "snake doctor".

BTW, it wasn't Marty who stepped on the sting ray, it was a testimony from the cc message board.

Live and let live
Re: sting ray injuries #78488
01/14/04 02:02 AM
01/14/04 02:02 AM
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 70
Roseburg, Oregon, USA
kailani Offline
kailani  Offline
I have always read that stingrays don't have venom, they just have a lot of bacteria and other gunk on their stinger that causes the infection, kind of like a coral cut.

Does anyone out there know which is right?

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