Rays returning to the Panhandle.

Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 8:07 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Summer is bearing down on Northwest Florida, and rays of all types have returned.

Visitors have been posting videos of rays near the shoreline and jumping out of the water, and there are a variety of different species that are back for the summer.

“This time of year we have many species of skates and rays that are moving into our coastal areas while the water is warming up,” said Dr. John Carlson, research fish biologist with NOAA. “There are generally two types of rays that we see here in coastal waters in the Panhandle; one are the pelagic rays that you see swimming up on the water column. They can either be cow nosed rays, which are brown in coloration and you look at them and the reason they’re called cow nosed rays is because their face looks like the nose of a cow, and the second are the devil rays and the manta rays which have long extensions on the side of their head.”

While these rays do not have the ability to sting, stingrays do and they have also returned. The good news is there are some easy ways to ensure you don’t get stung.

“What we tell people to do when they’re walking on the beach and walking in the water is what we call the stingray shuffle which is kicking your feet before you move forward,” Carlson said. “It startles that stingray and moves it out of the area. For the pelagic rays, generally they’re going to swim away from your and swim around you, they may be curious.”

These animals are wild, so it is important to give them their space.

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