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U.S. Coast Guard Rescues Fisherman After Extreme Stingray Injury

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Image courtesy USCG

Published Sep 23, 2021 4:46 PM by The Maritime Executive

Last weekend, the U.S. Coast Guard rescued a fisherman who had been badly injured by a 300-pound stingray while trawling off the coast of Long Island. 

James McKenna, a crewmember aboard the trawler Shelby Ann, was working on board on Sunday evening when he was struck by a giant stingray. The creature left two six-inch-plus spikes embedded in his leg. 

His crewmates gave him first aid and made a VHF distress call to U.S. Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound. The command center consulted with a flight surgeon, who recommended an immediate medevac, and a Jayhawk helicopter crew out of Air Station Cape Cod got under way to assist. 

Courtesy USCG

Lt. Andrew Doyle, who was on the flight, told local media that the victim was screaming when they arrived on scene, and he was very grateful to be hoisted aboard and ferried to a hospital in Rhode Island.

"[The crew] had removed [the barb] prior to us getting there, but it had left a significant portion still embedded into his leg,” Doyle told local WJAR. “We took it with us to the hospital so the physicians, the doctors, the nurses could assess how bad the damage had been and what they needed to do with it.”

Stingray barbs are poisonous, and though the venom is rarely fatal, puncture wounds from a large ray cause extreme pain and can create a dangerous risk of infection. About 1,500-2,000 stingray injuries are reported every year in the United States, according to the National Capital Poison Center.