The Amazing Flight of Little Ray displayed at 50% of viewport width
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. It 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 tail spine of a young stingray is small and weak. Fish stories usually end well. Ancient use of this toxin may seem like another fish story.

Greek dentists used venom to numb pain. It quickly lost strength. Modern drugs have longer shelf lives. Derived from plants, stingrays are not killed to make them.

Animals may win fights with humans. According to Pizard's GURPS Miscellanea, Sawfish have a chainsaw-like blade. Their snouts knock holes in boats and leave nasty wounds.

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 dangerous whips and others.

One type of devil ray has a stinger. Pizard's GURPS reports Devil Rays are the largest of manta family members. Weighing up to a ton, they prefer flight over fight.

Stingrays do not hunt with their stingers. When they feel threatened, they strike 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 can be lethal. Australian naturalist, Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, may have obstructed Australian bull ray. It speared him in the chest, killing him.

The legacy lives. Stephen Robert “Steve” Irwin died from trauma and stingray toxin. His enthusiasm for wildlife remains, thanks to his family and documentaries co-hosted with his wife.

The sheath covering the barb contains the venom. It enters from a gland at the base of the tail. Upon striking, if the sheath breaks, venom is released. It may be forced into the victim, where it acts like poison.

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

World-wide deaths from stingray stings average one or two each year. Injuries largely 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 their tails, not their stingers. The stinging spines stay attached to the body. They are not shot like arrows from a bow. The cutting edges slash muscles and tendons like a butcher's knife.

There is no antidote. Place victims on their backs, feet higher than their heads. Loosen tight clothing. They should be kept still to slow the venom spread. Drinks may cause choking.

Patients are kept awake. During first aid, applying pressure may stop bleeding. Soaking in hot water may ease painfulness. Kits and first aid instructions are available at Ocean Care Solutions.

National Poison Prevention: For information about “stingray poison” after stingray stings in the United States, call the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Home remedies are insufficient. Treatment requires tetanus shots, antibiotics, medications for intense pain. Drugs provide wound care, raise blood pressure and ease symptoms.

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.

Poison is swallowed. However, 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.

Rays are not stingrays. They don't all have venomous barbs. While sharks may be immune to this toxic defense, it is smart to avoid stinging creatures. They are virulent.

Can sharks sting? Pizard's GURPS reports Dogfish Sharks have noxious stinging spines at the base of the dorsal fin. The painful stings generally are cured.

Mantas have no special defense equipment. They have no stingers, venom or sharp teeth. Immense size may scare attackers. The scientific name for giant oceanic manta ray is “manta birostris”.

The horns on a manta are not used for fighting. Devil rays also have them. These filter-feeding parts are called “cephalic lobes”. They unfold to funnel food into their mouths.

Electric rays can control their shock levels. Their electric powers make them fearless. Pizard's GURPS 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 potency 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. This 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 fatal or lasting effects.

There are different delivery systems. Snakes and spiders are biters. Toads and frogs may ooze poison through their skin. A touch sickens or kills. Poison travels 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.

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

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. Mosquito repellents seem to work better than electrical, chemical and magnetic devices to ward off sharks. Mosquitoes should be highly feared.