Little Ray is shown stinging a bird with no lasting venomous effects during an amazing flight, displayed at 50% of viewport width.
December 2018 by V. R. Duin

STINGRAY VENOM
OR STINGRAY POISON?

Little Ray was anything but dumb.
He began swinging like a pendulum.
Upside down, his spine was aimed wrong.
He could fix that — Little Ray was strong!
(The Amazing Flight of Little Ray)

A stingray stings with a stinging barb and toxic stingray venom. Called “stingray poison” by many people, there are no deadly or long-term effects to Little Ray's sting.

Lean Streak? Do not worry about the bird in this story. Tail spines of young stingrays are functional, but small and immature. Fish stories usually end well. An ancient use for this toxin may seem like another fish story.


Crossing Over? Greek dentists used the protein-based toxin to numb pain. The ancient medicine quickly lost strength. Modern drugs have longer shelf lives. Stingrays are not killed for modern plant-derived pharmaceuticals.


Low Concentrations? Marine venoms may aid cancer treatment. NCBI of NLM sets forth this potentiality in Antiproliferative activity of marine stingray Dasyatis sephen venom on human cervical carcinoma cell line.


Last Stand? Early warriors used stingray barbs on arrow, spear and dagger tips. Museums hold vast collections in displays. The tails make cruel whips. Laws now prevent the use of these and other dangerous whips.


Biting Danger? Stingrays have no reason to bite for defense in the wild. Crushing bites with suction force are associated with food. Captive, hand-fed stingrays may pinch, leaving bruises, while sucking in food.


Suction Injury? Stingrays usually latch onto a person by mouth suction rather than with teeth. Pulling away may cause painful skin-tearing damage. Most injuries resemble hickeys. They can bleed or lead to blood clots.


Bod Clot Treatment? Blood clot treatments depend upon location and size. The use of anticoagulant medications to thin blood prevents further clotting. Pain and swelling can take weeks to go away. Clots can be deadly.


Male Power? The males develop pointed ends on some of their teeth to hang on to females while mating. These bites may break human skin. No poison is associated with the injury. As with any wound, infection may occur.

How a Stingray Stings

Fishing Style? Stingrays don't hunt with their stingers. When threatened, they strike in self-defense. As shown, a stingray swings its tail over its body to sting. The cutting edges slash muscles and tendons like a butcher's knife.


Stingray Barb Attack? Stingrays typically flee rather than attack. The tail wielding a venom sting spear extends over a great length. A frightened stingray can aggressively strike hundreds of times in mere seconds.


Hit the Spot? Stingrays control the tails, not the stingers. The stinging spines stiffen, but remain physically attached. They are not shot like arrows from bows. Unhooking these by-catches presents grave risks to anglers.


Stingray Size? Baby stingrays weigh about one pound (0.45 kg) and measure six inches (15.24 cm) long, excluding the tails. Adult can weigh 660 pounds (300 kg) and measure more than 6 feet (1.9 m) in length.


Body of Evidence? World-wide annual deaths from stingray stings average one or two. Most injuries occur to waders' feet or legs in shallow water. Stingers of these bottom dwellers may break off, requiring surgical removal.


Stingray Stings Can Be Avoided. Entering and moving through the water with Little Ray's Stingray Shuffle movements typically scares them away. These fish clearly do not want to waste their defenses on careless beings.


Self-Inflected Pain? The location of the stinging barb on the tail would prevent a stingray from stinging itself. In the unlikely event it stings another stingray or shark, the venom won't be harmful. The wound may be deadly.

Stinging Barb

Custom Content? The integumentary sheath covering the barb contains venom. It enters from a gland at the base of the tail. Upon striking, if the sheath breaks, venom is released. Forced into the victim, it acts like poison.


To the Point? Barbs have no uniform appearance. Some are serrated. Others are not. Some are in the middle of the tail. Others are near the body of the fish. Some stingrays have several stacked stingers. Others are singular.


Up to Par? Animals can defeat humans. Sawfish sense and hunt prey with chainsaw-like blades. Their snouts puncture boats and cut deeply into flesh. Survivors generally must submit to numerous surgeries.


Devilish Spears? One devil ray species has venomous barbs. Devil Rays are the largest member of the manta family. Weighing as much as a ton, these deep coastal dwellers may reach shallow waters.


Stinging Sharks? Dogfish sharks have two mildly poisonous spines in front of their dorsal fins. To use them in defense, it curls its body. This aggressive hunter rams or bites to capture prey two or three times its size.


Hunting Packs? These fish were named for their hunts in large packs. Although painful dogfish shark stings can be cured, it is smart to avoid all stinging creatures. Infections from the wounds can be virulent.

Deadly or Long-Term Effects

Power House? Blocking a stingray's path can be lethal. Australian naturalist, Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, may have obstructed an Australian bull ray. The large fish speared him multiple times in the chest, killing him.


Cause of Death? Stephen Robert “Steve” Irwin likely died from trauma and hemorrhaging, rather than toxin. His family employs the documentaries he co-hosted with his wife to perpetuate his legacy and enthusiasm for wildlife.


Stingray Spike? The sharp, rigid point repeatedly pierces a foe. An increasing magnitude of strikes coupled with strong venom concentrations can be lethal. It was said Mr. Irwin could not have been saved.


Hands of Time? Recovery can take years. Foot and Ankle Online Journal presents Stingray Envenomation of the Foot: a Case Report. Venom accompanies 75% of stings. Tail stinger parts break off in 5% of wounds.


Buckle Your Shoe? Children and the elderly face greater death risks. Over time and with each penetration, the effects worsen. Stung victims often get airlifted from beaches for urgent medical intervention.


Monstrous Mantas? These open sea dwellers have no stingers, venom, sharp teeth or special defense equipment. Manta birostris is the scientific name for the giant oceanic manta ray. Immense size may scare off attackers.


Looking Sharp? Horns on mantas are not used for fighting. Called cephalic lobes, they unfold to funnel food into their mouths. Devil rays also have these filter-feeding parts. The small “alfredi” species lives in coastal waters.


Lookalikes? Skates are distinguished from rays in the family by prominent dorsal fins. Stingrays have whip-like tails with stinging spines. Skates have thicker tails, lacking spines. Most rays are much larger than skates.

Stingray Sting Treatment

There is No Antidote. Victims should be placed on their backs, feet higher than their heads, with tight clothing loosened. Remaining still slows the toxic spread. Drinks may cause choking. Soaking in hot water eases pain.


Peak Form? Authorities are proactive. National seashores are installing emergency-call boxes. Guard stations are stocking tourniquet kits. Tightened bands apply pressure to staunch blood flow and stop hemorrhaging.


24/7 Hot Line: For information, risk assessment and treatment guidance subsequent to “poisonings” occurring in the United States, call The National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.


Home Remedies? Urgent care treatment commences with sutures, tetanus shots, antibiotics and medications for intense pain. Drugs may be indicated for wound care, to raise blood pressure and ease accompanying symptoms.


Symptoms Include: blood loss, chills, cramps, delirium, diarrhea, difficulty or cessation of breathing, dizziness, fainting, fever, heart failure, hives, low blood pressure, nausea, paralysis, seizures and swelling.


Poison is Swallowed. Venom is injected. An article published by the Accident and Emergency Department of the Welsh Poison Unit reports stepping on dead and rotting stingrays can cause stingray injury.

Different Delivery Systems

Electric Rays? They can control their shock levels. Pizard's GURPS gives a breakdown of electric jolts by victim size for Electric Rays. Salt water is a good conductor, increasing death risks as higher voltages push higher amps.


Open Water? Electrocytes generate electric fish pulses. These modified muscle cells are arranged in columns within electric organs. Charges radiate from the head and front of ray bodies onto their dorsal areas.


Biomedical Research? Electric rays have scientific value. Channels and receptors in their electric organs simulate the human nervous system. Declining populations have no commercial use, so by-catches are killed.


In Parallel? Electric fish gave rise to electric batteries. Italian physicist Alessandro Volta is celebrated for the first continuous current source. His invention developed from research into animal electric cells and connections.


Similar Shock Ability? Electric catfish and electric eels present serious dangers to handlers. They do poorly in captivity. Electric fish potency has been tested throughout the ages for curative and torture treatments.


Golden Gut? After honey bees penetrate a mammal, they cannot safely pull out their stingers. This action rips away some body parts, killing them. Stingray power is superior. Unlike honey bees, they can keep attacking.


Another Round? Other bees, ants, hornets, yellow jackets, wasps and scorpions can sting repeatedly. This disables prey for easy eating. Allergic reactions resulting from the injections may produce fatal or lasting effects.


Mouth to Hand? Snakes and spiders are biters. Some toads and frogs ooze poison through their skin. Mere contact with one of these animals can sicken or kill. This poison can travel from hand to mouth.


Group Names? A group of sharks is called a “shiver”. Folks shiver at the mere thought of ravages. A group of stingrays is a “fever”. Fever can result from infections carried in water. Sharks show toxin and disease resistance.


Jellyfish? These ancient creatures have no brains, no heads, no fins and no backbones. Tail-like tentacles contain the venom. It continues working after they tear apart and die. Few box jellyfish victims return to shore.


The World's Deadliest Creature? WHO provides an Executive Summary of Insect-Borne Diseases. Mosquitoes have no venom, but kill several million people and sicken hundreds of millions each year. They should be feared.