Woman's 'excruciating' encounter in shallows leaves trail of blood on beach

The woman's grim encounter comes as stingray injuries are on the rise in Queensland.

A woman has revealed how she was unable to speak due to the "excruciating pain" when a stingray pierced her foot with its venomous barb.

Drew Vickers, 26, was on a snorkelling trip on Queensland's Magnetic Island when she accidentally stepped on the stingray in the shallows of one of the island's beaches. Experiencing an "intense burning sensation", she clambered back to shore for help before the extent of her injury become apparent.

"I looked down and there was trail of blood behind me. And that's when I realised, oh yeah, I'm not going to be able to figure this out on my own," she told the ABC.

Drew Vickers' injured foot (left) and a picture of her in a bikini at the beach (right)
Drew Vickers was left in unbearable pain after her foot was pierced by the stingray's barb. Source: Drew Vickers via ABC

"It was excruciating. Every minute felt like an hour itself," she said, revealing it took an hour for paramedics to arrive.

She tried to seek solace on the phone to her mother, but realised she couldn't "physically speak" due to the pain.

Stingray injuries on the rise

Data from Queensland Health shows stingray injuries were up 33 per cent last year, according to the ABC. And while deaths from stingray encounters are extremely rare, Steve Irwin was famously killed by a stingray barb to the chest.

Experts stress the animals are rarely aggressive and do not seek confrontation, but beachgoers should be mindful of their presence and particularly their rear.

A light brown stingray on the ocean floor in Queensland.
Stingrays are not aggressive animals, experts stress. Source: Getty, file.

"The barb is the only part of a stingray you should be wary of. Since it is located close to the base of the tail on most species, the rest of the tail and the body are harmless to touch," Jaelen Myers, visiting marine ecology researcher at Queensland's James Cook University, recently explained.

"You're only in barbing range if you stand nearly on top of their bodies, but they usually shuffle away long before you get that close."

Such advice was likely the reason behind the concern for one beachgoer in NSW in January after they were filmed diving down behind a stingray near a jetty in Bawley Point.

"These things are dangerous and should never be taken for granted," a fisherman who shared the video stressed.

Those stung by a stingray are advised to not remove the barb themselves and place the injury into warm water to neutralise the toxins as they wait for an ambulance.

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