Rays are bottom-dwellers and like the sand and mud of warm shallow ocean waters. Normally gentle, when a ray is attacked by would-be predators or stepped upon by unwary humans, the animal lashes its long whiplike serrated tail that has one or more large, sharp barbed spines at its base that are associated with poison glands and can inflict severe wounds. If a deep stingray wound goes untreated, it is possible for secondary infections to develop such as gangrene or tetanus. Medical treatment is important for deep cuts.

Experienced swimmers who wade in shallow water shuffle their feet along sandy bottoms or surf to alert rays of their approach.

Alantic sting ray
Alantic Sting Ray (NOAA Photo)