CLEARWATER BEACH (FOX 13) - More than 10 people have reported being stung by stingrays on Clearwater Beach, prompting officials to raise purple warning flags.
The city of Clearwater said 10 swimmers were treated for minor injuries after being stung Wednesday. Another person, Alycia Proskos, was stung Friday morning.
"I just felt a really big sting in my foot and I originally thought I got scraped by something on the way out. But then as I was walking out, I could see the blood coming down," said Proskos, who was visiting from Toronto. "It hurt quite a bit. It just felt like an intensified bee sting."
Officials said it's not uncommon to have a higher number of stingray stings this time of year.
"Between April and October, stingrays usually come to warm, shallow waters because they mate," said Jason Beisel, a spokesperson for the city of Clearwater. "Right now, as you can see, our gulf waters are warm. They're shallow and the reason you're seeing more of them on North Beach than on South Beach is because we have less people over here. So they tend to migrate more on North Clearwater Beach than South Clearwater Beach."
The best way to protect yourself from a stingray's burn is a method called the stingray shuffle, where you slide your feet through the sand, rather than walking.
Experts at Clearwater Marine Aquarium explained why.
"What that's going to do is it's going to stir up the sand, cause vibrations that are going to allow the stingrays to know that you're in the area and they're simply going to swim away," said Brooke Bowersox, an animal care specialist at the aquarium, who also described why stings hurt so much. "They actually have a barb. So that barb is actually what's going to sting and that barb also has serrated edges and it does contain venom."
Beisel said there are lifeguards on the beach year-round to provide help in the case of a stingray sting or any other emergency. Anyone who does fall victim to a stingray should find a lifeguard immediately for a hot pack treatment and further medical assistance, if needed.