Man Pierced By Stingray Barb – updated 7 Jan 2014


A man has been taken to hospital in Auckland after he was pierced in the chest by a stingray whilst scuba diving in the Hauraki Gulf, scene of New Zealand’s only stingray fatality.

He was airlifted from Pakatoa Island with moderate injures and is said to be undergoing tests. Neither his name, nor his nationality have been released to the press.

In January Canadian tourist, Matt Brazeau, suffered a severe laceration when his thigh was pierced clean through by a stingray barb whilst standing in surf after falling out of his canoe near Waitara, near New Plymouth.  He told the Taranaki Daily News

“I was reaching for the kayak and felt this unbelievable pain through my leg. It was as though something had bit me but with electrical impulses. It was really fast, in and out within a second. There was no movement, no action in the water except for me jumping back into the kayak. It had to be a stingray.”

Mr  Brazeau was also taken to hospital where he received 40 stitches in his thigh. The barb missed a major artery by a few millimetres.

Stingray injuries are not uncommon in NZ

On 7 January 2014 a fisherman was taken to hospital when he stabbed in the thigh. He was travelling in a boat to Maketu when he was njured.

In February 2009 Moteuka resident, Michael French, was lucky to be alive after he was airlifted to hospital after a Stingray inflicted a severe laceration to his side.

His injuries were so bad that it was thought he’d been attacked by a shark and the beaches were closed whilst a search was conducted.

His injury was the fourth in two months and it was predicted that there were more attacks to come because of an increase in rays in NZ’s waters.

The other incidents include

  • February 2009 a South African tourist was stabbed in the arm by a stingray whilst fishing at Hot Water Beach, Coromandel.
  • A month earlier a 11 year old girl from Woodville was airlifted to hospital from the Riversdale Beach, Wairarapa suffering from serious lacerations to one arm and one knee.
  • That was just a matter of days after a previous Stingray encounter in Pohara Beach, Golden Bay when a woman was airlifted to Nelson hospital with a barb embedded in her leg.

New Zealand’s only Stingray fatality is thought to be an 18 year old woman who died from injuries to her chest and thigh whilst bathing in the Hauraki Gulf, ten miles from Thames in 1939.

The Sting Ray barb has been described as “as deadly as a bayonet“. New Zealand has 26 species of rays and skates including Electric and Longtail Stingrays and they’re very often seen in shallower waters around the coast. One species of electric ray, the New Zealand Torpedo is endemic to the country.

The Longtail Stingray can grow to to 4 metres, including the tail which is twice the length of its disc-shaped body. They can be found shallow water and down to about 400 metres.

Longtail stingrays are feared because of the serrated, poisonous spines at the base of their tails, which they thrust into anything that tries to catch them. If a person accidentally stands on them they will be injured, but these stingrays do not seek out victims. Growing to a maximum of 214 kilograms, they feed on crabs, mantis shrimps, molluscs, worms and conger eels. (source Teara)