Hidden Viper - Seafood Treasure

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Stepping into warm waters of the Texas Gulf coast, the novice wade-angler stepped towards a likely fishing spot, but before he could make his first cast, a deep, jabbing sting struck like lightning causing him to double over in excruciating pain!

He had just stepped on a stingray with the ray reacting to protect itself by whipping its inch long venomous barb into the anglers leg. The angler, now in trouble and screaming from the terrible, pulsating pain, began yelling for help! Luckily a nearby wade buddy immediately came to his aid getting him ashore for help.

I was that person! The pain I felt paralyzed my leg from the pain and my friend rushed me to a hospital for medical help. The stingray barb was jammed into my leg just above the ankle, and worst yet, the barb had broken off ... OUCH!!!!!!!In another not long ago incident I caught a small ray of about 2-lbs and didn’t want to hurt the little critter when pulling my hook from its gullet, so I wrapped a towel around it and proceeded to work my pliers like a surgeon to recover the hook. But, again, the ray quickly reacted to protect itself and I suddenly felt a now familiar pain hit my hand, imbedding its barb deep within my palm... OUCH!!!

The first incident caused me to learn how to SLIDE MY FEET across the bottom when wade fishing to avoid stepping on a ray and the second incident learned me to CUT THE LINE when trying to avoid hurting those often ornery critters.

From Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia-Stingray, are a group of rays, which are cartilaginous fishes related to sharks. Most stingray have one or more barbed stingers on the tail, which are used exclusively in self-defense. The stinger may reach a length of approximately 14 inches, and its underside has two grooves with venom glands. The stinger is covered with a thin layer of skin, the integumentary sheath, in which the venom is concentrated.

Stingray are common along Texas coastal waters and subtropical marine waters throughout the world. While most stingrays are relatively widespread and not currently threatened, for several species the conservation status is more problematic, leading to them being listed as vulnerable or endangered.

The flattened bodies of stingrays allow them to effectively conceal themselves in their environment. Stingrays do this by agitating the sand and hiding beneath it. Because their eyes are on top of their bodies and their mouths on the undersides, stingrays cannot see their prey; instead, they use smell and electro-receptors similar to those of sharks.

Feeding Habits-Stingrays feed primarily on mollusks, crustaceans, and occasionally on small fish. Some stingrays’ mouths contain two powerful, shell-crushing plates, while other species only have sucking mouthparts. Stingrays settle on the bottom while feeding, often leaving only their eyes and tail visible.

Reproduction- When a male is courting a female, he will follow her closely, biting at her pectoral disc. He then places one of his two claspers into her valve. Stingrays are ovoviviparous, bearing live young in "litters" of five to 13. The female holds the embryos in the womb without a placenta. Instead, the embryos absorb nutrients from a yolk sac, and after the sac is depleted, the mother provides uterine "milk".

At the Sea Life Aquarium, two female stingrays delivered seven baby stingrays, although the mothers have not been near a male for two years. "Rays have been known to store sperm and not give birth until they decide the timing is right".

Stingray injuries- Stingrays do not aggressively attack humans, though stings do normally occur if a ray is accidentally stepped on. To avoid stepping on a stingray in shallow water, the water should be waded through with a shuffle. Contact with the stinger causes local trauma (from the cut itself), pain, swelling, muscle cramps from the venom, and later may result in infection from bacteria. The injury is very painful, but seldom life-threatening unless the stinger pierces a vital area. The barb usually breaks off in the wound, and surgery may be required to remove the barb and fragments.

The best treatment for a MINOR stingray sting is to immerse the effected area in HOT water (as hot as you can stand it) and it will ease the pain almost immediately. But if the barb has broken off and imbedded in the wound it’s best to seek medical help.

As food- Barbecued stingray is commonly served in Singapore and Malaysia. Rays are edible, and may be caught as food using fishing lines or spears. Stingray recipes abound throughout the world, with dried forms of the wings being most common. For example, in Singapore and Malaysia, stingray is commonly grilled over charcoal, then served with a spicy sauce. Generally though, the most prized parts of the stingray are the wings. The rest of the ray is considered too rubbery to have any culinary uses.

Stingray can also be a sushi delicacy as well as roasted on a pit or grilled on a smoker grill. It’s flesh is very versatile and can be prepared in a variety of ways. Just Google "Stingray Cookery" on your info-puter to find out the many recipes available.

A popular southern way to prepare stingray is to use a 2inch cookie cutter to cut out coin sized chunks from the wings only, leaving the skin on until finished. Then with a sharp filet knife cut the top and bottom skin from the flesh. Then soak the coined flesh in milk for one hour. Remove from milk and cover with Cajun style seasoned bread crumbs.

You can either saut? the ray cuts in olive oil and plate with dirty rice and roasted peppers or deep-fry in peanut oil until golden brown served with French fries and hush puppies..

Serve with a rice dish or French fried potatoes and hush puppies, you’ll find stingray flesh to be uniquely sweet and very, very tasty.

Ecotourism- Stingrays are usually very docile and curious, their usual reaction to flee any disturbance. Nevertheless, are aggressive when threatened and should be approached with caution, as the stingray’s defensive reflex (use of its poisoned stinger) may result in serious injury or death. Case in point, "The Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin.

This Article sponsored by Miss Nancy’s Bait Camp and Crystalbeachlocalnews.com