The Amazing Flight of Little Ray
December 2018 by V. R. Duin


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 that may have stingray venom. This is called “stingray poison” by many people. In “The Amazing Flight of Little Ray”, there were no deadly or long-term effects.

Do not worry about the bird in this story. The effects of a sting can seem like “stingray poison”. Fish stories turn out well. An ancient use of stingray venom may seem like another fish story.

Greek dentists used it to numb pain. The stingrays did not live. The venom quickly lost strength. Modern drugs have longer shelf lives. These drugs come from plants. Stingrays aren't killed to make them.

Can people fight off stinging animals? In fights with a human, the stinging animal is likely to win. The pain and swelling from a stingray wound can be intense. The damage can last a long time or cause death.

Early warriors used stingray barbs on arrow, spear and dagger tips. Museum collections have these on display. The tails made cruel whips. There now are laws against these whips and others.

Stingrays do not hunt with their stingers. When they feel threatened, their tails are used in self-defense. As shown above, a stingray swings its tail over its body to sting. Fishermen get stung by these catches.

Blocking a stingray's path can be deadly. Australian naturalist, Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, may have died this way. An Australian bull ray stabbed him in the chest.

Can baby stingrays sting? The barb of a young stingray is small and weak. The effects may not last long term. Small amounts of venom are like poison inside the body.

The sheath holds the venom. The stingray's stinging barb is covered with this layer of skin. Venom comes from a gland at the base of the tail. Barbs are made toxic by the sheath.

Venom is forced into the body. Poison has to be swallowed. 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.

Smaller victims face a greater risk of dying. According to Pizard's GURPS Miscellanea, the effects get worse with each sting and over time with venom from Stingrays.

World-wide deaths from stingray stings average one or two each year. Stinging injuries mostly are made to the feet or legs of people in shallow water. The stinger may break off, requiring surgery for removal.

To get well can take years. Foot and Ankle Online Journal provides a Stingray Envenomation of the Foot: a Case Report showing venom in 75% of stings and the barb breaking off in 5% of wounds.

Stingrays control the tail, not the stinger. The stinging parts stay attached to the body. They are not shot like arrows from a bow. The cutting edges slashes muscles and tendons like a butcher's knife.

Some rays can knock holes in boats. According to Pizard's GURPS Miscellanea, Sawfish have a chainsaw-like blade on their noses. They leave nasty wounds.

Home remedies are not enough. During first aid, applying pressure may stop bleeding. Soaking in hot water may ease pain. Kits and first aid instructions can be found at Ocean Care Solutions.

There is no anti-venom drug. Victims should be placed on their backs, feet higher than their heads. Tight clothing should be loosened. They should be kept still to slow venom spread. Drinks may cause choking.

The patient is kept awake. Treatment includes tetanus shots, antibiotics, pain medications and drugs to raise blood pressure. In addition to wound care, symptoms are treated.

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

All creatures are not friendly. Some of them should be avoided. Most of them will try to stay away from people. People, who do not work in biomedical research, should not chase a stinging creature.

Not all rays are stingrays. Some don't have venomous barbs. Sharks may be immune to stingray venom. They don't feel effects of “stingray poison”. Sharks may be luckier than people.

Can sharks sting a person? According to Pizard's GURPS Miscellanea, Dogfish Sharks have venomous spines at the base of the dorsal fin. The painful sting generally can be cured.

Mantas have no special defense equipment. They do not have stingers, venom or sharp teeth. Their huge size may scare attackers. The scientific name for the giant oceanic manta ray is “manta birostris”.

The horns on a manta ray are not used for fighting. A devil ray also has these horns. They are called “cephalic lobes”. The horns are filter-feeding parts. They unfold to funnel food into their mouths.

One type of devil ray has a stinger. According to Pizard's GURPS Miscellanea, Devil Rays are the largest member of the manta family. They can weigh up to one ton. They join all rays in preferring to flee.

Electric rays can control their shock levels. Their shocking powers make them fearless. Pizard's GURPS Miscellanea gives a breakdown of electric jolt by size for Electric Rays.

Electric catfish and electric eels have shock ability. They present dangers to handlers. They do poorly in captivity. Their electric power has been used throughout the ages for cures and torture.

Stingrays are luckier than honey bees. Stingrays can keep stinging. After honey bees sting a mammal, they cannot safely pull out their stingers. The pulling action rips off parts of their bodies, killing them.

Other bees, ants, hornets, yellow jackets, wasps and scorpions sting. They can sting, again and again. They may sting for easy eating. Allergic reactions to stings may have deadly or lasting effects.

When barbs wear out, new ones are growing. New barbs may push the old ones off. Barbs also can stack on top of each other. None of this is good for the victim. Damage is caused with each sting.

Some animals bite to deliver venom. Snakes and spiders are the best-known of them. Toads and frogs may ooze poison through their skin. Touching or eating them sickens or kills. The poison goes from hand to mouth.

A group of sharks is called a “shiver”. People shiver to think of the damage they can cause. A group of stingrays is called a “fever”. A fever can result from infections caused by dirty water.

Local health departments monitor the bacteria levels of water. When bacteria levels are high, alerts and bans may be issued. Bacteria can enter the body when the water is swallowed or wounds are in water.

Jellyfish have venom in tentacles that look like tails. Their venom works after they tear apart and die. Few box jellyfish victims reach shore. Jellyfish have no brains, no backbones and no death wishes.

The world's deadliest creature has no venom. WHO provides an Executive Summary of Insect-Borne Diseases. Each year, mosquitoes kill several million people and sicken hundreds of millions.

Avoidance of injury and sickness may be easier and safer. Electrical, chemical and magnetic repellents may not ward off sharks. Mosquito repellents seem to work better. Mosquitoes should be highly feared.

Avoid Deadly or Long-Term Effects

  • stingray stings Little Ray says:

    For information after stingray stings and to prevent deadly or long-term effects from “stingray poison”in the United States, call the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

  • stingray venom Little Ray says:

    Stephen Robert “Steve” Irwin died from trauma and stingray venom, but his enthusiasm for wildlife remains, thanks to his family and documentaries co-hosted with his wife.

    • stinging barbLittle Ray says:

      Any stingray with a stinging barb can sting, even the babies, so beware when entering or moving through water.