Little Ray is shown stinging a bird with no lasting venomous effects during an amazing flight, displayed at 50% of viewport width.
December 2019 by Terry Verduin

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 with Little Ray's storied 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 a truly tall tale.


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.


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.


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' whip-like tails bear stinging spines. Skates have thicker tails, lacking spines. Most rays are much larger than skates.


Front & Center? Little Ray teaches children and adults to avoid retaining old emotional pains and fears. It is preferable to meet stressful situations or problems with calm, strength, wisdom and restraint.

How a Stingray Stings

Fishing Style? Stingrays don't hunt with their stingers. When threatened, they act 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 venomous 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 toxic spines stiffen, but remain physically attached. They are not shot like arrows from bows. Unhooking these by-catches presents grave risks to anglers.


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


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 often 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.


Blood Clot Treatment? Treatment depends upon clot 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 onto females while mating. These bites may break human skin. No poison is associated with the injury. As with any wound, infection may occur.

Stinging Barb

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.


Custom Content? The integumentary sheath covering the barb contains venom. It enters from a gland at the base of the tail. Upon wounding, 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 of the eagle ray family has venomous barbs. Devil Rays are larger than the manta rays in this family. Weighing as much as a ton, these deep coastal dwellers may reach shallow waters.


Stinging Sharks? The dogfish shark has two mildly poisonous spines in front of its dorsal fins. To use them in defense, it curls its body. This aggressive hunter rams or bites to disable prey two or three times its size.


Hunting Packs? Dogfish sharks were named for their hunts in large packs. Although their painful stings can be cured, it is smart to avoid all stinging creatures. Infections from the injuries can be virulent.


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

Deadly or Long-Term Effects

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.


Bright Line? Rays spend most of their time hiding in the background. When avoiding conflicts fails, these stinging fish are prepared to defend themselves. A stingray can be a formidable opponent when challenged.


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.


Ambush? Crocodiles, like most stingrays, hunt by ambush. Prey is caught drinking from banks or while it is bathing. Stingrays hide in wait on the ocean bottom. Unlike sharks, these animals rarely do active hunting.


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 penetrates foe. An increasing magnitude of strikes coupled with strong venom concentrations can be lethal. It was said Mr. Irwin could not have been saved.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.

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. Their electric channels and receptors simulate the human nervous system. Because the declining populations have no commercial use, 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.


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.