Lifeguards at Bolsa Chica State Beach say there are thousands of stingrays lurking in the water in the summer. Blake Carter recalls the “excruciating” pain when stepped off his surfboard and on to the sea creature. Lifeguards recommend shuffling your feet to tell the stingrays you are there and to move out of the way. Hetty Chang reports from Bolsa Chica State Beach for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on June 21, 2013.
As beach-goers flock to the beaches this summer, lifeguards and one Whittier man are warning about the presence of stingrays.
Blake Carter, 23, had been recovering from a sting he suffered Tuesday at Sunset Beach, near Warner Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway.
"It's right there, the sting ray barb was right there," said Carter, as he pulled off his sock to reveal a swollen foot.
The picture he took on his cell phone showed his heel, bleeding from the sting he got when he stepped onto a stingray and felt what he described as intense pain.
"It felt like a dog bit me, it was really powerful," said Carter. "It was pretty excruciating, actually."
Warm weather and water attracts the stingrays to Southern California beaches. Last year, Huntington Beach city beaches reached an all-time high of 438 stingray incidents by November due to unseasonably warm weather and water, which are conditions that attract the stingrays, according to the Orange County Register.
Lifeguards are educating beach-goers on how to "shuffle" when approaching the water, a method known as the "stingray shuffle."
"It's very simple," said Kevin Pearsall, a lifeguard supervisor with Bolsa Chica state beach. "You're trying to let the stingray know that you're in the area. As you enter the water, you kind of shuffle to get the sand moving and the area moving, so they know you're coming and they will flee."
Stingray injuries are so common at Huntington Beach city beaches that there is a dedicated recovery room to treat injuries.
"I'm definitely a little bit more cautious and aware," said Carter. "But it's important to realize we are playing in the place they live."