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.
Lifeguards treated dozens of people at La Jolla Shores for stingray stings Wednesday afternoon.
The tally for people treated for stingray stings in La Jolla reached 55 by the end of the day Wednesday, with the last one occurring at approximately 7:45 p.m., San Diego Lifeguard Lt. John Everhart said this morning.
In addition to those reported at La Jolla Shores there were 14 stingray bites that occurred between Scripps Beach and Black’s Beach, bringing the total number reported in the La Jolla area to 69 for the day, Everhart told our media partners The La Jolla Light.
Lifeguards said that at one point, they were treating 11 or 12 people at the same time. Paramedics were called in to assist with triage because of the abundance of victims. Medics took three people to the hospital.
“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 Everhart. “With conditions like they are now, small surf and warm weather, it’s very unusual to have 55 at one beach, but it’s certainly not unheard of."
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.
"We've really had a large amount of folks affected today, so I would say it's not normal," said Lifeguard Sgt. John Sandmeyer.
“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.
A line of people outside the lifeguard tower soaked the sights of the stings in hot water – the usual treatment for a stingray sting.
However, 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.
Tuesday may have offered lifeguards at La Jolla Shores a hint of thing to come, when more than 20 people were stung.
"We are seeing a lot of folks out there needing to shuffle their feet a little bit better," Sandmeyer said.
Del Mar and Solana Beach lifeguards reported only one stingray sting at each of their beaches Wednesday.
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.