Having been hit by stingrays 4 separate times, I have become somewhat of a first-person authority on stingrays and stingray injuries.
How to avoid stingray injuries:
Why “shuffling your feet” does not work.
The wive’s tale of surfers (and many lifeguards) is that if you shuffle your feet, you’ll scare away the stingrays.
They call this the stingray shuffle, and it’s complete bullshit.
I know of no evidence or scientific literature that shows shuffling your feet actually deters stingray injuries, and there should be some scientific research performed in this area.
Of the 4 times being hit by stingrays, I was shuffling my feet 3 out of 4 of those times.
I would guess shuffling your feet is better than nothing, but let me tell you a better way to get stingrays away from you that actually works:
Stomping your feet does work.
Recently I’ve been diving in shallow areas. There are always stingrays out there. So I’ve seen this in person:
When a ray is 10 feet (or even 5 feet) away – shuffling does nothing.
Stomping my feet, the rays clearly sense the vibration – and they swim away with a quickness.
It’s worth noting that there are lifeguards who have run through the surf every day of their lives for 40 years and have never been stung.
When I surf now, I slowly and carefully enter the water, and I stomp my feet repeatedly until I get on the board. And I get on the board as soon as possible!
The topic of “shuffling vs stomping” could definitely use some scientific research, and it would be a great thesis for any marine biology student. For now, take it as a highly-likely, educated theory.
Soon, I will be posting a video to this page demonstrating the difference in stingray behavior when shuffling vs. stomping.