Stingray Facts

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

Stingrays are marine animals with flat bodies and long, slender tails that have serrated, venom-containing spines. They are found in warm temperate and tropical waters throughout the world and are often seen in shallow waters lying on top of or partially burrowed in the sand. There are around seventy different types of stingrays, which can range in size from a few inches to seven feet in diameter.

Stingray stings account for an estimated 1,500 injures per year in the US. Stingrays do not behave aggressively toward humans, so most stings occur when a swimmer or diver accidentally steps on a stingray. The defensive action by the stingray usually results in a puncture wound when the jagged spine ("stinger") penetrates the skin of the victim. When the spine of the animal is withdrawn, a laceration results and venom is injected into the victim.

Picture of stingray spine.

Picture of Stingray Spine

Picture of a spotted eagle ray (sting ray)

A stingray sting produces immediate sharp pain that peaks in intensity over one to two hours. The area of the injury may become swollen and red. Other symptoms that may develop include:

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/1/2014