PADRE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE, Texas – Do you shuffle your feet when you head into the water along the Texas coast? If not, you should, according to officials with Padre Island National Seashore.
If you’ve been to a beach along the Gulf of Mexico - from Texas to Florida - you’ve likely heard you need to shuffle your feet to help avoid getting stung by a stingray in a move dubbed the “stingray shuffle.”
The shuffle might also help protect against the lesser electric ray - a species of numbfish that lives in the Gulf.
PINS officials recently posted a photo of a lesser electric ray taken along the park’s beach and noted that while the shock of a ray should be avoided, it doesn’t exceed 14-37 volts.
“That is enough to give someone a jolting surprise, but not an injury,” officials said in a Facebook post.
For a time, the lesser electric ray was actually considered one of the most endangered marine fish on Earth based on a 2005 article that didn’t take into account certain survey factors.
Lesser electric rays were actually added to the IUCN Red List as critically endangered before the data from the 2005 article was reanalyzed and found “they are fairly abundant in specific habitats while consistently absent from others,” according to SouthernFriedScience.com. The publication found that rumors of the ray’s impending extinction had been “greatly exaggerated.”
The IUCN Red List now shows that the lesser electric ray is a species of least concern.
So it would seem the stingray shuffle is indeed still recommended for avoiding these marine animals along the Texas coast.
“Lesser electric rays normally lie buried in the sand of the surf zone and shallow Gulf,” according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “Accidentally stepping on one can be a shocking experience.”