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Alabama Beach Community Seeing Influx of Stingrays [VIDEO]

Aug 12, 2013 01:13 PM EDT

Officials in Alabama are reporting an increase in the sighting of stingrays along the state's coast, and other news reports indicate that there may be a proliferation of stingrays in coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

In the City of Orange Beach, Ala., beachgoers have had a difficult time enjoying the sand and surf because of stingrays along the coast, according to the local news outlet WALA Fox 10.

"We started flying purple flags due to the increase of stingrays along the beaches. We had several people get stung," Melvin Shepard, beach safety director for the City of Orange Beach, told WALA. "We keep seeing them along the beaches so just as a precaution we're flying the flags," Shepard said.

Shepard said he has received complaints about stingrays near shore from at least 20 individuals.

Stingrays are commonly found in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and tend to me most active between the months of August and October.

The cartilaginous fish tend to bury themselves in the sand anywhere from 3 to 10 yards from shore, where they lay in wait for prey while also hiding from predators. Stingrays are timid and will can usually be scared away by shuffling feet in the water. People who are stung by rays tend to stomp through the water, according to the infoguide Florida Beach Lifestyle.

The increase of stingrays present in the waters of Gulf Coast communities may not be isolated. About 50 miles west in Navarre Beach, Fla., two people were hospitalized over the weekend for after being stung by stingrays, the Daily News of Northwest Florida reported.

Last month at least 250 dead stingrays were found dead on the beaches in the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz, Mexico.

According to an Associated Press report, local fishermen dumped the stingrays on the beach because they were not able to get a good price for them. In Veracruz restaurants, chopped stingray wings are a popular snack.

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