By Stacey Leasca
October 29, 2019

Warm waters of California's famed Huntington Beach may have attracted many swimmers, but they also brought out a staggering number of sting rays.

According to officials, a record of 176 people were stung by the ocean creatures on Saturday.

“We get out a pretty aggressive public safety campaign... advising folks to stay out of the water if possible," Lt. Eric Dieterman of the Marine Safety Division at the Huntington Beach Fire Department, told KTLA.

Huntington Beach, California
Credit: MediaNews Group/Orange County Re/Getty Images

As the local news outlet explained, a school of stingrays typically hangs out in shallow waters, often spending their days partially buried beneath the sand. But, when a swimmer wades into the water and accidentally steps on one they will often react by poking the swimmer in the feet.

“It’s definitely a searing nerve pain and it’s pretty intense," a Huntington Beach resident explained to KTLA.

Aaron Newman, another beach-goer, wrote on Facebook, “The tide was super low and I was shuffling my feet but still got tagged. It felt like something bit through the top of my foot. I ran out of the water to the lifeguard stand and got a bag of warm water to soak my foot in. I walked home in pain, showered & continued to soak my foot in a bucket of hot water for a couple of hours until the pain subsided. Now I know why they’re called STINGrays and getting stung is no joke.”

Thankfully, by Sunday, the waters at Huntington Beach cooled off, sending the stingrays in search of warmer waters instead.

As for how you can avoid getting stung, Josh Raymond, a California State Parks lifeguard, told ABC 7, that people should try to slide their feet when entering the water to warn the ocean animals they are approaching.

"They're not swimming around looking to sting people, per se,” he said. "It's just where they live and that's where they are and if you step on one, they're gonna kind of lash back and say, 'Hey get out of here.'"