Stingray injuries on the rise along the Grand Strand

Stingray injuries on the rise along the Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Stingray injuries are happening more often along the Grand Strand this summer.

Myrtle Beach Fire Department said crews have responded to seven stings in the past two weeks, and now it has to order more stingray kits that are used to treat the injuries.

"It’s a two bag system. One bag holds the water and the other one heats it like a military MRE,” said Myrtle Beach Fire Battalion Chief Brian Mitchell.

The stingray kits cost $30 each and every MBFD Beach Patrol Unit carries one.

Many are wondering why there are more stingray-related injuries on the beach.

WMBF News took these question to Marine Biologist and Coastal Carolina University professor Dan Abel.

“It could be just serendipity,” Abel said. “Some years there are more, some years there are fewer. It’s an unsatisfying answer to say, ‘We don’t know why.’ If they are closer to shore, if there are more people in shallow water then there’s going to be more interactions.”

Abel said stingrays are not aggressive.

"It’s purely a defensive mechanisms. Their barb is a modified scale. These animals are closely related to sharks,” he explained.

A stingray sting can be severe. Their barb can get stuck in your skin and they do release venom.

"Even if you take it out that’s not the end, typically, of the issue because it has a coating, basically a skin on it, that has cells on it that produce venom and the venom could still reside in it,” he said.

To prevent sting ray stings, Mitchell said to try the “Stingray shuffle” when getting into the water. He said shuffling your feet as you walk in can help alert stingrays, and they’ll usually swim away.

“What this is going to do is send out vibrations, send out sand. If you are going to hit a stingray it will hit the side of it and you’ll let the stingray know you’re in the area,” Mitchell said.

If you are stung, both Abel and Mitchell said to see a doctor after, as the sting could get infected.

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