The Amazing Flight of Little Ray
December 2017 by V. R. Duin

STINGRAY VENOM

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 sting, with its stinging barb and stingray venom, also called stingray poison, forms part of the action in “The Amazing Flight of Little Ray”.

Do not worry about the bird in this story. Fish stories always seem to turn out well. One astonishing fact about stingray venom may seem like another fish story. Ancient Greek dentists used stingray poison from the stinging barb for an anesthetic! Now, you know why bird may not be feeling any pain from Little Ray's stingray sting. This is not to say that stingray venom should be taken lightly. It is highly poisonous. For this reason, stingray venom also is called stingray poison. When a stingray strikes a person in a vital body part, the stingray venom can be fatal.

Not only is stingray venom highly poisonous, but the stinging barb can cut like a knife. The pain can be severe and the wound can become infected. Early warriors made deadly arrowheads and spearheads from stingray barbs. These may be found on display in museums throughout the world. The enormity of these collections indicates these weapons were effective for warriors. A stingray sting requires immediate medical attention. Certainly, stingray venom serves well as the last line of defense for those stingrays that have stinging barbs. Manta rays are stingray relatives that do not have stinging barbs. Manta rays first may try to frighten away intruders with their immense size. When this fails, manta rays will try to flee determined predators. Flight is the first line of defense for most stingrays.

To attack, the stingray swings its tail over its body to jab whatever is above it with its poisonous stinging barb. The death of Australian naturalist Steve Irwin is a famous, and rare example. Mr. Irwin was swimming in shallow water directly above a stingray. This may have interfered with the stingray's perceived escape route and provoked self-defense by stingray sting. The stingray's knife-like stinging barb speared Mr. Irwin in the chest, killing him almost instantly. This is unfortunate, because stingrays do not generally attack or defend themselves aggressively. Stingrays prefer to flee, since it can take a long time for their venomous stinging barbs to grow back.

  • Stingray Defense
  • 3 comments

    • stingray sting admin says:

      For information after a stingray sting in the United States, call the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

    • stingray venom admin says:

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

      • stinging barbadmin says:

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