Thursday, October 19, 2006

Shades of Steve Irwin, huh? Just imagine. There you are, tootling down the Intracoastal Waterway in your boat, minding your own business...

The barb that pierced his lung and heart - at least, the part the ray left behind - was around 2" long. According to other sources, it was a spotted eagle ray, around 5'.

Oct 19, 8:59 AM EDT

Lighthouse Point man stabbed in chest by stingray

LIGHTHOUSE POINT, Fla. (AP) -- An 81-year-old boater was in critical condition Thursday
after a stingray flopped onto his boat and stabbed him, leaving a foot-long barb in his chest, authorities said.

"It was a freak accident," said Lighthouse Point acting fire Chief David Donzella. "It's very odd that the thing jumped out of the water and stung him. We still can't believe it."

Fatal stingray attacks like the one that killed "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin last month are rare, marine experts say. Rays reflexively deploy a sharp spine in their tails when frightened, but the venom coating the barb usually causes just a painful sting for humans.

James Bertakis of Lighthouse Point was on the water with his granddaughter and a friend Wednesday when the stingray flopped onto the boat and stung Bertakis. The women steered the boat to shore and called 911.

Surgeons were able to remove some of the barb, and Bertakis, who also suffered a collapsed lung, underwent surgery late Wednesday and early Thursday, the Miami Herald reported on its web site.

Ellen Pikitch, a professor of marine biology and fisheries at the University of Miami, who has been studying stingrays for decades, said they are generally docile.

"Something like this is really, really extraordinarily rare," she said. "Even when they are under duress, they don't usually attack."

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Jean said...

damn!... this is scary. Wonder what's up with the 'rays lately?

k said...

It's outlandish, really. The sort of thing that's so rare we feel safe saying it *never happens.*

Then, two in the heart in the space of a few weeks?!?

Granny J said...

I recall how we used to catch small rays when my Pop and I went fishing down on the Inland Waterway between St. Agustine and Ponte Verde. Never had a bad accident, but I always worried!

k said...

You know, I've handled small ones too -carefully, sure, but I never thought to be concerned about it flipping around like that.

With me, it was mostly, Watch your feet in the brackish areas, don't step on a ray.

God protecting drunks and fools, perhaps.