A typical "flat shark".
The picture above is a southern stingray. It's just a juvie, the adults get ginormous with much larger stingers. This one was snagged in the "wing" by Tyler as he was fishing and he brought it up on the deck so I could photo it for you. The fish was not harmed except for a neat pinhole in his wing. (Ladies and men with piercings, you can relate)
Stingrays are defenseless except for their stinger and an ability to hide in the bottom mud. The stinger is a hardened spike of cartilage, serrated on each side and ending in a sharp point. It would hurt by itself, but the whole thing is coated with a poisonous slime.
When threatened by a hammerhead shark (big ray predator) or a misplaced human foot, the ray whips the tail around so the spike is driven into the offender.
Here again, I can share personal experience. When I was 17, I stepped on a stingray while gigging (spearing) flounder late at night in Salt Run. It was a smallish ray, but she still had enough power to drive the stinger through the sides of my Keds and into the side flesh of my foot.
It honestly hurt more than cutting my finger off (search under stupid things I have done ...sigh).
The first pain you feel is the initial poke and then an intense burning ache develops. Standard first aid treatment is heat, as in a hot pack. Nobody (at least not me) knew that back in 1975.
I remember biting down on the wooden handle of the fish gig immediately after the hit, just hoping it would subside. When the waves of pain dropped to a dull ache, I floundered a little longer, but I eventually called it an early night ... normally I'd go until dawn.
The intense pain was short term, but the wound stayed sore for over a month. I was taking a karate class at the time and I remember sitting cross-legged on the dojo floor was murder if I put my weight on the edge of that foot. Ouch!
That's me about to release this very cooperative ray. I'm not sticking my fingers in it's eyes, it just looks like it. Rays have extra breathing openings called spiracles near the eye so they can breathe on the bottom.
My crew on the dock was shouting advice and criticism as I grabbed the ray to release it.
"Are you crazy?"
"Just push it in with a pole"
"You're going to get stung"
Irritated by the barrage of scaredy cat advice, I said, " Has anybody else here been stung by a ray? No? Okay then ..."
To which teenager Jonathon replied, " Um, doesn't that mean that we're smarter ..."
Don't you hate it when they're right?
For the record, both the ray and I left the encounter with no serious injury.