San Diego

Lifeguards Warn of Stingrays as San Diegans Pack Beaches for Fourth of July

Stingrays remain a safety concern as tens of thousands of people flock to the beach this holiday weekend

As big crowds pack San Diego's beaches to celebrate Independence Day Tuesday, lifeguards have reminded beachgoers to watch out for stingrays.

Tens of thousands of people flock to the coast for the Fourth of July, which is typically the busiest beach weekend of the year.

One of the biggest concerns for lifeguards are the stingrays. Lifeguards say beachgoers should shuffle their feet while walking in the water to scare them away. Del Mar lifeguards say they've had more stings, with an average of 10 to 15 a day.

"Now that the water is warmer, we're seeing a lot more stings," said Tyler Grant, a senior lifeguard in Del Mar.

San Diego lifeguards say it's normal to see a couple stingrays a day. The amount increases when the water is warm and calm, usually peaking during August.

One surfer, Nikki Penaflor, told NBC 7 she was unlucky enough to land on a stingray when she was knocked off her surfboard by a wave at La Jolla shores Monday.

"It just really hurt. I knew that I either hit a seashell or a stingray," said Penaflor. "Then it started to sting everywhere in my foot."

Lifeguards treated Penaflor's sting with hot water and bandages. Most stings are minor injuries but some people can be allergic.

"It felt like something was in my foot, and it just hit my foot really hard, and it just never stopped hurting," said Penaflor.

The beaches are packed and campsites have been booked for months. Lifeguards say finding parking spots by the beach at this point is near impossible.

"It's been insane for parking and we've had to shut down a few times, but everyone has been really good about it, everybody has a great attitude and looks like a lot of fun," said Shane McKillip, a parking valet working at Poisedon in Del Mar.

Del Mar is one of the most crowded areas in San Diego. Lifeguards expect roughly 17,000 people at this beach alone this holiday weekend. The lifeguard staff has nearly doubled.

"We're all prepped and ready assuming people have called in sick and taken an extra vacation day, so we're fully staffed with 35 lifeguards, open 8 [a.m.] to 8 [p.m.] today," said Grant.

Last year, more than 250,000 people packed the beaches in San Diego for Independence Day, according to the San Diego Lifeguards.

The campground at Carlsbad state beach has reached capacity, according to campground officials. Online reservations that opened seven months in advance were sold within seconds.

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