Wildlife Danger Has San Diegans on Alert

By Jason Austell
|  Thursday, Jul 15, 2010  |  Updated 1:31 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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Black Sea Nettles Arrive

Raw video of the black sea nettle, a three foot long jellyfish, in San Diego Bay July 2010.
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Summertime is in full swing in San Diego but there's good reason to be cautious whether you're inland or at the coast.

The wildlife indigenous to the region has made it's presence known in some predictable, but sometimes painful ways.  Here are the main things you need to know with regard to four of the most prevalent local species.

Starting on land with the least danger to humans and pets are skunks. In our region the striped skunks you'll see are typically nocturnal and non aggressive. Most babies are born in May and June so as you can imagine, there are plenty of them scurrying around these parts.  Their defense mechanism is the foul sulfuric acid type chemical they spray on their subjects. It can linger for days and, yes, the old tomato juice bath is still the most convenient way to get rid of the odor.

More dangerous are rattlesnakes.  So what's the best thing to do if you encounter one? Leave it alone! Most bites occur when the snake is provoked. The bite is painful and potentially fatal. The buzz of the rattle is a warning that the snake is about to strike. During the day they like cool shaded places. On warm summer nights you can expect them to come out. Keep your dog on a leash and avoid areas off the beaten path. Check under your home and seal off any holes or gaps where rattlers might hide.

Now to the ocean where the past few days have seen a huge increase in the amount of Stingray strikes. On Wednesday there were 69 strikes reported just in the La Jolla area. If you've ever been popped by one of these things you know how painful it is. Avoid being a victim by doing the Stingray shuffle. When you walk in the ocean start each step by sticking your toes in the sand and kicking forward. If you do take a barb in the foot the best thing to do is to soak it in the hottest tolerable water for at least an hour.

It's rare to see a proliferation of jellyfish along our coast, but they arrived in big numbers this week. These are big, floating Black Jellyfish and their stings can pack a mean punch. Some reach 3 feet in diameter with tentacles that can reach 25 feet. The first thing to do if you're stung is to get the tentacles off your skin using sand, a towel, or whatever is available. Forget the old wives tale about using alcohol or urine on the sting. Instead you should try sugar, vinegar, even meat tenderizer to bring the swelling down. Recovery can take anywhere from several minutes to several weeks.

Enjoy this beautiful San Diego summer. Just be careful as you go.

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