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A few stingrays manage to escape a 300-foot fishing net as workers from the Learn2rip Surf Academy, scientists from Cal State Long Beach and Seal Beach lifeguards take part in a seasonal effort to catch, study, de-barb and safely release more than 200 stingrays while cleaning the popular but polluted area near the Los Alamitos Bay jetties in Seal Beach.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

A sting rays raises its tail with its sharp barb extended upward as it is trapped by a fishing net. Years ago, the strand earned the nickname Ray Bay for the thousands of rays it draws to its shallow waters warmed by a nearby power plant.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Organizer Cary Ortiz holds up three sharp barbs clipped from the stingrays. The toxin-coated stinger causes a dull, burning pain to pulsate through the sting area, usually a victim's lower leg. The injuries aren't considered serious unless they get infected or the ray's serrated barb breaks off.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

A volunteer cuts the barb off a trapped stingray. Lifeguards warn families, kite-boarders and beginning surfers to be cautious in the area they call the "hot zone," where an average of 400 people a year are stung.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Volunteers de-barb trapped stingrays. Hot summer days when the tide is low and the surf is calm are ideal conditions for stings. The only known cure for the sea creatures' sting is to soak your feet in near-scalding water.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

A volunteer holds up a sea hare that was released shortly after being trapped in a 300-foot fishing net.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

A volunteers retrieves a large croaker fish that was released back into the ocean shortly after being trapped in the fishing net.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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De-barbing stingrays in ‘Ray Bay’

The Learn2rip Surf Academy, scientists from Cal State Long Beach and Seal Beach lifeguards are taking part in a seasonal effort to catch, study, de-barb and safely release more than 200 stingrays while cleaning the popular but polluted area near the Los Alamitos Bay jetties in Seal Beach.

The stingray wrangling is the first of three efforts in the next month and part of an ongoing effort to make the area where the sands of Seal Beach meet up with the mouth of the San Gabriel River safe and clean for the summer season, according to organizer Cary Ortiz, founder of the surf school, who has been cleaning the shallow waters for years.

The area near the jetties and Los Alamitos Bay is known as Ray Bay, where many people suffer stingray attacks each summer.


  1. May 25, 2011, 4:03 pm

    If they de-barb the stingrays, they will be defenseless against predators. That sounds cruel to me. There are humane ways to prevent from being stung by a stingray. Shuffle your feet in shallow water so you scare them away and don't accidentally step on them. That's how people get stung.

    Mary Cummins
    Animal Advocates

    By: Mary Cummins
  2. May 27, 2011, 9:17 am

    Well, you can actually get stung regardless of the shuffle. Indeed, my experience proves so and it was a horrible experience that escalated into a severe case of cellulitis and blood poisoning. However, I do not agree with this procedure, in fact I find it abhorrent. People should just realize they are taking a risk, or don't go in the water-period.

    By: Alix
  3. May 25, 2011, 6:34 pm

    wow …that is great news….our family stays away from seal beach beaches because of the stingrays. we are going to be headed down there now

    By: mark
  4. May 25, 2011, 8:07 pm

    What in the h..l were they thinking? De-barbing the sting rays? That was not necessary at all. What they have done now is left the animal totally defenseless. All they would have had to have done is to educate the public in how to do the stingray shuffle. Shuffle your feet when entering the water or slap the surface of the water with a board and the stingrays will swim away. We have surfed Seal for years and have been stung before. That was our fault not the sting rays that were only trying to protect themselves. After all

    By: Guest
  5. May 25, 2011, 9:58 pm

    Whats next? Catching all the wild bears and removing their claws and teeth before releasing back into the wild?

    By: Guest
  6. July 9, 2011, 4:47 pm

    Catch all wild boars and put them down! They are non-native and do untold damage. Stingrays are another story.

  7. May 26, 2011, 8:44 am

    Sing ray "attacks?" Perhaps there is are some documented case of stingray attacks at this beach I am unaware of, but this appears to be shoddy and misleading reporting. I am certain that many a stingray has stung someone after being stepped on or threatened, but this is different than an unprovoked attack that this caption implies. Please be more careful with your use of language.

    By: Corey
  8. May 27, 2011, 7:17 am

    Yeah let's start filing down shark, bear and mountain lion teeth, de-clawing and shaving house cats (reduce dander allergies), muzzle all dogs, de-beak seagulls, crows and all carnivorous birds,place all bees and wasps in internment camps until stingers are removed and saw the antlers off deer, elk and moose. I am not a PETA sympathizer and I do consume meat periodically but who the heck comes up with these hair brained ideas? If you get that many volunteers at the beach pick up trash, feed the homeless or sift the sand for spare change and bottle caps.

    By: chuck
  9. May 27, 2011, 8:26 am

    It's a Trip when they can plan on taking the defense from these sea animals but when people like Michael Vick are Obama swats a fly it makes national news and rally the public to backlash them. Nope I think they should receive the same harsh backlash like Obama and Michael Vick receives.

  10. May 27, 2011, 10:17 am

    The barbs are meant to break off in the first place, folks. That's how they work. Jab it in a predator, then take off while it thrashes in agony. Losing a barb means it grows back over the season, and by late fall, they'll have another one. And if they get eaten in the meantime? They're already over-populating. Heck, you're eating them as "sea scallops" anyway, so why not make money and sell them instead of letting them go?

    By: ionotter
  11. May 27, 2011, 10:23 am

    Seriously? That is just wrong. The ocean is wild and it should be kept that way. If you are too scared to get stung don't go in the water. Its not like people are being killed by these things. And just wait for it, its gonna cause some other eco-system break down and make things worse.
    Notice its the surf school that is heading this thing up? Its because they don't want to lose business cause parents don't want there kids getting stung…all for money. And I'm not against surfing, I surf all the time, and if I'm in an area that has a dangerous bottom (rocks, reef, stingray, stonefish, etc) guess what, I don't touch the bottom. Teach them to surf without standing on the bottom, teach them about the dangers of the ocean, not how to commit animal cruelty legally.

    By: tytyler
  12. May 28, 2011, 12:24 am

    Debarbing Rays is not necessary as they are not predators of man. They are gentle and only strike when intimidated or stepped on. It is a little drastic to de-barb them.

    By: J Berkove
  13. May 29, 2011, 9:16 am

    How cruel !!! Why would you even consider something as brash as that ? I'm sure you would not wish to have something as useful as, say, your tongue removed would you?

    By: Pervis
  14. May 31, 2011, 12:36 am

    Another stupid attempt to control nature

    By: Cdydley
  15. August 16, 2011, 7:00 am

    Don't they need the barbs for protection?

    By: arthurb3
  16. February 2, 2013, 2:29 pm

    What's next de-toothing sharks? de-clawing bears?

    By: edward
  17. June 24, 2013, 3:48 pm

    I would like to think that "scientists from Cal State Long Beach" have some logical explanation when asked the question that most of us are asking, which is, "Aren't you leaving the stingrays defenseless against predators and thus harming them in the long run?" Although I completely agree that removing their barbs to protect humans invading THEIR habitat is stupid (humans venturing where they don't belong should man up to the risks), if it's true that their barbs will grow back, I suppose it's the lesser of two evils. Still evil, though. Honestly, though, there's really got to be another reason other than to protect people from stings…

    By: lilbugsd
  18. April 6, 2014, 1:39 pm

    IT's pointless because the barbs grow back anyway so it's an unnecessary stress to the animal.

    By: chazzc

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