Stingray season on Florida beaches runs approximately between the months of April and October. (The most popular time for Florida beach vacations. Imagine that.)
It is during these months that these sea creatures come into the warmer shallow Florida Gulf Coast waters to mate.
They also are lazy and bury themselves in the bottom sand to stay away from being eaten by sharks or other larger rays.
What makes things tough, however, is that many hotels, resorts, and rental condos do not make this little piece of information well known to their vacationing guests.
They seem to be a bit stingy with stingray info. (I guess it is bad for business...but if a visitor gets barbed by one of those things, I bet it can somewhat sour their Florida beach vacation experience.)
A stingray injury is usually termed an "isolated incident" by management.
There are a couple of things you can do, however, to dramatically minimize your chances of getting nailed by the extremely painful sting of one of these sea animals.
Florida Stingray Season Precautions
First, get rid of the idea that Florida stingray season coincides with baseball season. It doesn't.
Sea animals don't read the calendar. Just like humans, some are self-starters and get to places early...and some are pokey and stick around late like desperate party guests.
Second, when you are entering the water...be vigilant. In the past week, the three sting victims I saw just waded carelessly or sloshed mindlessly into the water, and were painfully stung about 10 feet from shore.
Those stingray injuries could have easily been avoided with just some basic understanding of these animals.
Stingrays seem to like the area between 3 to 10 yards off the beach, especially where the small "drop off" is just as you enter the surf.
This is a real problem because this area is where most people and kids play around.
Activity and energy frighten these shy sea creatures. They can't see well and rely on electro-sensors/vibrations to let them know they are in danger. It is not uncommon for people to see them scooting away as they enter the water.
Problems start when their little pea-brains figure they outran a predator...and they settle in right behind the person who just scared them. People step backward and...BAM.
Try not to walk or bounce around backwards when you are out in the ocean.
Finally, from the moment your feet hit water...start shuffling. Don't mindlessly slosh around...don't sprint into the surf like a triathlete or a bikini model...shuffle.
* On the Florida Gulf beaches, this preventative measure is actually called
The Stingray Shuffle.
This sends vibrations through the sandy bottom and scares rays. They are not predators who attack. Their painful sting is purely defensive. They react just like a desert scorpion.
Note: By adhering to the above tips, even using the Stingray Shuffle, does NOT guarantee you won't get barbed, but it will tremendously reduce your chances of a stingray injury.
I am out in the Gulf of Mexico almost everyday at
Treasure Island Beach
and I have never been stung. I'll be the first to admit I've been lucky because I have stepped on rays many times when I've let my mind wander.
Don't let your visit to a beautiful Florida beach be ruined either by not knowing about these sea animals or from fear of going into the water. A little stingray info can go a long way in prevention.
A sting should always be taken seriously because people react differently to the toxic venom. To learn more about these ocean creatures at Florida beaches and what to do if stung, please click the link below.