Repeat after me: Stingrays are passive, docile creatures.
One more time, with feeling: Stingrays are passive, docile, creatures.
So I’m certain that many of you are aware (because SEVERAL of you have likened me to a lucky version of Steve Irwin) that the Crocodile Hunter died of a stingray sting to the heart. I haven’t seen a blessed word of what the press has said or printed, I’m just going on what many of you have brought to my attention. So I’d like to clear a few things up, as a former stingray victim.
1. Stingrays are, in fact, “passive, docile creatures”, to quote Anne back to her (she just sent me an e-mail asking if I was buying the media’s assertion to that effect). They, unlike the Ted Bundy’s, religious right, and white trash sectors of the world, do not premeditate actions motivated by hate (to my knowledge). Their sting comes as a result of something 49 times their size trying to crush them out of existence, however unintentional the imminent crushing may be on the part of the crusher.
2. When they sting, it is a completely involuntary reaction, much like breathing or watching Friends reruns is to humans. They don’t think about it, it just happens. I understand that mature stingrays will try to get out of the way rather than lurk just under the cover of sand, waiting to inflict pain (and, in at least one instance, death).
3. I have spent almost 27 of my almost 34 years on this planet playing on, in, and around the water. I would even venture a guess that I have spent at least twice as much time in the Gulf as most of you reading this. Until I got stung this last December, I never shuffled my feet. Never got stung before that. These creatures are not that aggressive, trust me. I can bring it out in anyone, and if I haven’t attracted their wrath before now, it’s because they just aren’t that into stinging.
4. (And this isn’t clarification, it’s more informational) What you will feel if you get stung: PAIN. At first it felt like a crab pinched the side of my foot (yup, that’s happened before, now THOSE are aggressive little bastards). That lasts as long as it takes to scream. Then it got a little better; that lasted until I put weight on the foot a few seconds later. Then the massive, soul-rending pain came and did not go away. That lasted until I immersed the foot in hot water that scalded, which I actually welcomed to distract me from the pain of the sting. As soon as the hot water cooled to “almost tolerable”, the pain returned. After about 90 minutes of soaking, the moaning stopped, the crying and shaking let up, and it just hurt like hell, which, really, wasn’t that bad. Comparatively.
So, there you have it. They’re sweet little creatures. Don’t try to kill them with your feet and they’ll leave you alone, too. Oh, and also this: don’t be a dumb ass (but very interesting) croc hunter who screws with them. ‘Nuff said?