National Geographic : 1989 Jan
prepared to defend itself against any human that unwittingly steps on or kicks it. When this happens, the tail will whip around, planting the serrated, razor-sharp spine (bottom right, and diagram) in the foot or ankle of the victim. The venom ous spine, as long as six inches, causes tissue damage, swelling, and extreme pain, but it can also induce vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, a drop in blood pres sure, and, rarely, death. I never forgot-and diving guides like Jay and Pat never let tourists forget-that stingrays can be dangerous. But these were so gentle that I became accustomed to having their tails caress the back of my neck or scrape across my faceplate.