Hey all. Been lurking for the last few weeks as I am just getting started with saltwater flyfishing, but after seeing a few posts I thought I might post a couple of things about surf safety. I am sure most of you know this stuff already but if not, it is good info to know and certainly good for beginners.
Stingrays - I saw someone state that it is important to shuffle your feet when walking and this is very true. Almost all of the stingray envenomations I see are on the foot and ankle from stepping directly on top of the ray. The others are inevitably fishermen trying to dislodge a hook who get punctured in the hand. If you are hit, the toxin starts causing a tremendous pain response almost immediately. The most important thing to remember about the toxin is that it is heat labile so HOT WATER, as hot as you can stand, will almost immediately lessen the pain. I would say that almost all of these should be seen in the ED or urgent care environment by someone with experience as these can frequently become infected (think Vibrio) and need to be washed and sometimes treated with Abx.
Jellyfish - almost all of the jellyfish toxins endemic to us are denatured by acid. Vinegar or even coca cola can help tremendously. The barbs can be quite small and remain in the skin unless gently scraped off. If you see a "sail" out of the water associated with jelly, go ahead and get out of the water. This could be a Portugese man of war and their toxin is quite powerful and their tendrils can be extremely long.
Wave injuries - people often underestimate the power of a wave. I have seen almost every type of trauma from a wave injury that we typically associate with a major auto accident. These injuries are under reported and are amazingly common. You are at least ten times more likely to be injured by a wave than anything else in the surf.
Shark bites - amazingly rare. Most of the "shark bites" I see are really bluefish in the shallows. As long as you arent wading into the bait balls, you should be okay.
Well, I mainly typed this so people would know about the hot water treatment for stingrays and then I couldnt seem to stop. It can certainly save someone some pain if they are far from treatment.
Best of luck and good fishing!