I vividly remember my first experience with the venom of the sea. I was on Sanibel Island, doing the hillbilly stomp out to the sandbar, when an excruciating pain inflicted the center of my right big toe. My immediate thought was that I cut my toe and the salt water was making it burn really bad. Once I got back to shore, an old man said, “Looks like a Stingray got you.”  

The pain felt like I had stuck my right big toe into a light socket, and like I had four or five yellow jackets walking around my toe, continually stinging me. The pain grew more intense as time passed, instead of going away. In short, I thought I was going to die for sure. When we got to the doctor’s office, I declared I was the victim of a stingray. Immediately, all the nurses swarmed me. They took me into a room and poured coffee pot water into a foot bath, and when I eventually got my foot submerged, the pain disappeared.

The doctor came in later and told me the venom was a protein like an egg white and that the heat changed the form of the protein – like cooking an egg – and the pain disappeared. Then, he gave me a paper that explained how to do the Stingray Shuffle and commented how fortunate I was not to have felt the venom of a Man-Of-War, which is much worse than a Stingray. I thought the Man-Of-War was only present in Australia, but it appears now that they are in every ocean, except for the Arctic.  

They have been washing ashore all over Florida. They look like a Jellyfish, but they are actually Siphonophores. The Man-Of-War in the Atlantic Ocean are much bigger than the ones in the Pacific. Recently, it is thought that they may be a different species. The name comes from the fact that the Man-Of-War’s shape resembles that of an old-style wooden battleship. The sting of a Man-Of-War is made by a reflex rather than a deliberate action. So, be careful of what you touch on the beach. Even a broken-off tentacle can deliver a powerful sting.

 

God bless you all, RHM