The Koh Tao stingray
The stingray is a special kind of fish, which belongs to the shark family and is characterized by a flattened body. The marine water of tropical and sub-tropical coasts is their safe abode where they breed comfortably. The stingrays have several species like the Dasyatis, which likes to breed in warmer water. Plesiobatis is another species that likes to be in deep ocean water.
Stingrays are mostly known for their strange behavior because they use their flattened body to conceal them in a particular environment, where they grow. They first agitate the sand and then hide within it. The fish species also follow a strange process of hunting. If we observe a stingray, we will notice that it has its mouth in undersides and its eyes lay on the top of its body. That is why it can't see the approaching prey and hunt by smelling, which is a common characteristic of the sharks. Some stingrays only can suck foods whereas others have shell-crushing, powerful plates to squeeze their prey.
Some Strange Facts about the Stingrays
There are some must-to-know facts about this species of shark. Let's see how this fish proves to be different from the others:
- Ancient dentists from Greece used the venom of this fish as anesthetics.
- As this fish belong to the shark family thus like sharks, a stingray also doesn't have a bony skeleton. It is made of cartilage, the same thing we see in our ears and nose.
- Their body movement is similar to that of the birds. Like birds, stingrays also move their flippers down and up to swim in ocean water.
- Generally, they like solitude, but sometimes they prefer to swim in groups. Interesting, a group of stingrays is called "school".
Foods for the Stingrays and its Breeding Habit
Stingrays live on selective sea foods like oyster, clamps, mussels, crabs and shrimps. This fish with strong jaws make a paste of its meal. The fish breed only once in a year and gives birth to a maximum of six young ones. A peculiar fact about the fish's reproduction system is that when it carries the baby inside, it is already a longer and grown up stingray and thus the young ones can feed and survive on themselves after coming out.
The eco-tourism is affecting stingrays
A recent research report published by Guy Harvey Institute established the fact that eco-tourism has affected this special fish-breed and it resulted in their lifestyle and behavioral changing. In the stingray city, where every year many tourists visit only to feed this fish, the creature is becoming lazy. As they are being provided with artificial food, they don't even feel the urge to hunt. At other places, stingrays can't swim in day time because the places where they swim are often crowded. As a result, they can't breed properly and are reducing in number. In some tropical areas, stingrays are getting wilder than normal while adjusting with the changing scenario.
A Stingray Sting
Records says that every year near 1500 people in the US alone get injured due to stingray stings. The stingray is otherwise a cold natured animal and generally is not aggressive to humans. Experts suggest that the stings happen only when a swimmer steps on a stingray accidentally. The creature feels a kind of sensation and considering the person as its enemy, it stings him to defend itself. A stingray's sting is not such a serious threat, but if the stinger penetrates through the swimmers skin, he should take it seriously. If proper measures are not taken instantly, it can be fatal minutes later. This is because the stinger releases venom, which needs to be cleansed immediately, before it mixes with the bloodstream.
How to Cure a Stingray Sting
We have already said that a stingray sting is dangerous only when the venom enters the body. It may not be possible to visit a doctor, as soon as the sting act happens. However, some first-aid action can prevent the venom from spreading. First, wash the injured place with hot yet tolerable water and use some acidic liquids like orange juice, soda pops, Ki-Ora to wash the place again. You can use salt, if these ingredients are not found easily. This will neutralize the venom and lessen the pain to some extend. After this, cover the injured place with a clean piece of cloth (preferably cotton cloth) so that bacteria cannot grow there.
This first aid gives temporary relief, but you should not be late to visit the doctor because medicine is required to heal the injury from inside.
Unlike neighbouring Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, Koh
Tao remained untouched by tourism for many years.....
...then, in the late 1980's the first Samui based dive shops began running
overnight live-aboard trips and were amazed by what they saw. Crystal clear waters boasting a splendid array of colour and
coral reefs alive with an incredible diversity of marine life.
Soon dive operations began re-locating to Koh
Tao realizing they had uncovered a wealth of untouched beauty.