Beachgoers reported more than the usual number of stingrays in the Packery Channel Friday. They're considered gentle giants, but when frightened they may fight back.
Stingrays can be hard to spot when buried under the sand, especially for children splashing around in the water.
The worst thing to do if you come face-to-face with a stingray is panic.
"They do have a defense mechanism and that is their barb, and so we just want people to know that stingrays will be scared of you, and if you respect them they'll respect you," said Brittney Laurel, Curator of Fish and Herpatology at the Texas State Aquarium.
Laurel said they are atlantic and southern stingrays, and right now they are migrating. So while they are traveling north, take caution at gulf-side beaches.
"They are in very shallow waters and they live in the sand," Laurel said. "Those stingrays are at Bob Hall Pier, the jetties, and so we need to be really careful."
Laurel said to do "the stingray shuffle." To do it, keep your feet flat on the sand and shuffle as you walk through the water.
If that's not enough and you do get a barb in your foot --
"Seek medical attention," Laurel said. "A stingray's barb is serrated on both sides, which means pulling out the barb would do more harm. Leave the barb in. Put your foot, ankle, whatever was stung, in warm water at least until you get medical attention where the barb can be removed."
So if you're headed to the beach for the Fourth of July weekend, inspect the waters before you jump in. If there are stingrays around, Laurel has two tips.
"Keep your distance, and stay away from it," Laurel said.