Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Diving with Stingrays in San Diego

Following the tragedy of Steve Irwin's death, friends are asking me if I think I am at any risk diving in San Diego with stingrays. Fortunately, I belong to an email group of divers called Dive Bums, and this post appeared in my in-box just this morning. I think it is worth sharing, and I hope it lets everyone relax a bit about diving here in San Diego.
The common round ray that divers see along the shallow sandy plains of San Diego is usually Urolophus halleri. The stingers from one of these adult rays will only grow to be about an inch or so long, making the penetration of a divers heart and their resulting death completely impossible.

There are two stingrays found in San Diego that have the dagger like capacity to puncture a human heart with its stinger. One is the Pelagic Stingray, Dasyatis violacea found commonly a few miles offshore (never along the beach). The other is the Diamond Stingray, Dasyatis dipterura. This ray is found in shallow sand environments once in a while at the shores, but is infinitely more rare when compared to the common round ray.

Rest assured that your heart is safe from near shore San Diego sting rays while diving.

Eddie Kisfaludy
Marine Biology Research Division
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD