Stingray Injuries: When and Where Are You Most Likely To Get Them
Although it’s always good to practice safe stingray habits to avoid a stingray injury, it helps to know where and when stingrays are most prevalent.
You’ll find the most stingrays close to shore when the temperatures are warmer and the water is calmer. In particular, stingrays are closest to shore in the months of April - October. According to the Shark Lab in Cal State Long Beach (stingrays are cousins to sharks!), this is partly due to the increased water temperature, and partly because the courting and mating season for stingrays happens from April to May, and pupping occurs from August to September.
A study run by Hoisington & Lowe found that stingrays are most prevalent in the first 100 ft of shore. This study also found more stingrays as the waters get calmer. Stingray injuries are more common when more stingrays are next to shore.
Finally, the Shark Lab shares that most stingray injuries are reported in the afternoon - especially between 12pm - 3pm. It’s important to keep in mind that while this may indicate a pattern in stingray behavior, it’s also possible that there are just more people in the water during those times.
Beaches with more ideal Stingray Conditions:
As part of our efforts to understand stingray injuries, we have a survey section on our website where anyone can contribute to our stingray research (we’d love to hear your experience!). We’re recording where people are getting stung and their experiences with stingray injuries.
Studies have shown that stingrays prefer warmer and calmer water. As National Geographic points out in their encyclopedic blogs on bays and coves, both bays and coves are partially protected from turbulent waves allowing for the calmer waters that stingrays prefer. We’ve put together some popular beaches in Southern California near or within bays and coves. This list isn’t comprehensive, but these are some popular beaches in or near bays and coves where you may encounter stingrays.
Seal Beach & Belmont Shore, Orange County California:
Seal Beach is a hotspot for stingrays and is nicknamed “Ray Bay”. This article from the CSULB Shark Labs shares that one of the reasons why stingrays are particularly abundant here is that the electrical-power generation stations on the San Gabriel River increase the average water temperature that feeds Seal Beach.
Coronado, San Diego County California:
Articles like this one from ABC 10 San Diego have highlighted how many stingrays there are near shore. In the article, they highlight Gator Beach on Coronado Island in particular, but Coronado Island as a whole can experience calmer water which stingrays prefer.
Huntington Beach & Bolsa Chica, Orange County California:
Back in 2019, CNN wrote this article sharing how there were a record 176 stingray injuries reported in one single day at Huntington Beach. Huntington Beach is a hotspot for stingrays, but the city is one of the most proactive with respect to beach safety. In 2021, they launched a Safe Beach Day website where lifeguards can report stingray injuries as they encounter them so the public can be aware ahead of time of stingray activity.
La Jolla Shores, San Diego County California:
During summer months at La Jolla Shores, you can frequently see a line of recently-stung folks sitting by the central lifeguard building with their feet soaking in buckets of hot water, like depicted in this article. In the article they share that they’ve seen upwards of 60 people stung in a day there. It’s always good to be proactive about avoiding stingray injuries at La Jolla Shores.
Mission Bay: Tourmaline Beach & Dog Beach / Ocean Beach, San Diego County California:
Mission Bay has calmer waters which stingrays prefer and is next to beaches including Tourmaline Beach & Ocean Beach. In 2018, The San Diego Reader posted some of the lifeguard’s notes on stingray injuries in Blacks, Boundary Line, Tourmaline beach here.
Finally, these are some other beaches where we’ve personally received reports of stingray injuries from our research:
- Solana Beach, San Diego County California
- Leucadia, San Diego County California
- Torrey Pines Beach, San Diego County California
- Imperial Beach, San Diego County California
- Scripps (North Side of the Pier), San Diego County California
- Cardiff Reef, San Diego County California
- Powerhouse Beach, San Diego County California
- Black’s Beach, San Diego County California
- Doheny Beach, Orange County California
- Torrance Beach, Los Angeles County California
- Redondo beach, Los Angeles County California