130 Swimmers Stung by Stingrays

By Michelle Wayland and Eric S. Page
|  Saturday, Jul 17, 2010  |  Updated 1:01 PM PDT
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Lifeguards have seen a bump in stingray stings this week along <a title=La Jolla Shores. What experts say could be the result of a food source or nursery ground in the warm water." />

Lifeguards have seen a bump in stingray stings this week along La Jolla Shores. What experts say could be the result of a food source or nursery ground in the warm water.

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Stingrays have stung about 130 people since Wednesday and most of them were at La Jolla Shores, lifeguards said.

Three people were hospitalized Wednesday. Lifeguards said that at one point, they were treating 11 or 12 people at the same time.

“It’s kind of like a throbbing pain,” said swimmer Jeff Bud. “The cut is kind of small, it’s just the pain is intense.”

Once the water gets above 50 degrees, San Diegans will find stingrays in the water.

“Stingrays are an everyday occurrence along the Southern California coastline,” cautioned Lifeguard Lt. John Everhart.

Stingrays are related to sharks and they use their tails for self-defense. They flatten their bodies and often cannot be seen easily.

Although lifeguards don't keep a daily tally of stingray stings, they say the number of victims stung in such a short period of time is unusual.

“That to me seems excessive and may be connected with a lot of food in one place they like eating so they are congregating or maybe it's a nursery ground,” said Nigella Hillgarth with Birch Aquarium.

Lifeguards do monitor the victims' vital signs. A lifeguard said that if you are allergic to bees, it's likely that you are allergic to stingrays, too

Lifeguards urge swimmers to shuffle their feet when entering and exiting the water to avoid stingrays.

Stingrays are not the only sea creatures being detected in large numbers. Large jellyfish are popping up along San Diego’s shoreline this week. Scientists say a rare species of dark purple jellyfish called the black sea nettle is showing up in San Diego Bay and washing ashore on beaches.

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