30 Rays spotted together on Fort Myers Beach!

Hundreds of people watched in amazement as a group of about 30 rays swam up to the shore of Fort Myers Beach. “They were just swimming by me on both sides,” said Ken Coker. The group has been seen swimming along the shoreline near the pier this past June.

Now I know you must be thinking that June was a while back and you are wondering why I am covering this, but I know the majority of our readers would enjoy seeing some information on this really cool event. It is rare to see this large of an amount of rays together! Not to mention that this got so much buzz in my area that I am still seeing posts on this occasionally. Even some local radio stations posted links to their websites sharing about this story. I am sure that you, the reader will love seeing it as well.

Local biologists tell us they are cownose rays, which are currently migrating along the gulf coast. They love to swim and are generally harmless. Remember not to disturb them and they won’t bother you is what they mean by that.

It was a unique sight for tourists. “I got bumped five times along the shins. It was awesome,” said John Sankey, visiting from Indiana. But it was just another summer visitor for locals. “Just like anyone else here, they’re just here to enjoy the water and the sun,” said local Shawn Wilcox.

But don’t be fooled. Stingrays are in the water, too. They’re usually hiding under the sand, and they aren’t so friendly. Fort Myers Beach Fire and Rescue said they get about two to three calls a day for a sting.

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.

The real problems start when they figure they outran a predator…and they settle in right behind the person who just scared them. Then you take a step backward and…BAM. It is best to just try not to walk or bounce around backwards when you are out in the ocean. The best advice I can give you is to be sure that 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 actual  labeled as the stingray shuffle.

“We’ve seen some really bad ones where the barb has actually gone through someone’s foot,” said firefighter-paramedic David Beers. Firefighters say hot water and ibuprofen are the remedy. “We’ve been trained to put ice on every injury, but this is one of the ones you actually need the opposite,” said Beers. So don’t forget to do the stingray shuffle. “If you shuffle your feet, they can feel you coming and they usually go,” explained Beers.

As someone who lives not even 5 minutes from this location, I know to do the shuffle when I get in the water. I must say, though, please don’t let the thought of being stung by these guys keep you out of the water. I go swimming frequently in this water and I have never been stung by these guys. You just need to be aware they are there during the season for them and shuffle those feet. It isn’t hard and my family and I often made it a dance in the water as we enjoyed some fun in the sun.

These creatures are rarely dangerous, and I have even had the opportunity to pet one, and if you get a chance to do this, you definitely should! (I did so at an aquarium please do the same and don’t go petting wild ones saying I told you too.)

There are plenty of safe environments to expierence these incredible creatures that are not going to end with you getting stung. Check out your local aquariums and in the places you visit and you are sure to find a plethra of sea creatures to tickle you fancy!

Sources:

http://www.nbc-2.com/story/29411294/group-of-rays-awe-crowd-at-fort-myers-beach#.VkgJcnarTcs

http://www.florida-beach-lifestyle.com/stingray-season.html