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November 2016    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 31, No. 11   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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The Sting in the Tail

from the November, 2016 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

A diver has been killed by a stingray in a Singapore aquarium.

Dr Tan Heok Hui, 45, an ichthyologist and operations officer at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum in Singapore, says that stingrays in captivity may feel provoked and retaliate by stinging when they feel threatened, cornered or alarmed, or even moved from their tanks.

"Stingrays have backward-pointing barbs on the spine that have serrated edges. When a spine pierces human flesh, it breaks and releases toxins into the flesh and can cause severe muscle contractions. Whether a sting is fatal or not depends on where the victim is stung."

Philip Chan, in his early 60s and head of a team of divers at Underwater World Singapore, was a victim of this in October when moving a stingray to a different tank. Chan died in hospital after being struck in the chest. The most famous victim of a stingray barb was Australian TV personality, Steve Irwin.

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