Has anyone noticed the recent proliferation of media stories covering human death or injury at the 'hands' (tails, barbs....) of sting rays? Here is the latest offering - a '57 year old killed on a boat by a stingray' story complete with demonic photo of a stingray lying on the floor of the boat.
So the question is, are stingrays the new sharks?
Great example of a media campaign induced to shape public perception of fear and risk. Sting ray this, sting ray - look at those newspapers walking out of the stores.
So what is next? I bet a Hollywood block buster called 'Barbs from the Deep' followed by repeated stories of 'innocents' killed by, and fishermen catch monster specimens of, the dreaded stingrays.
Sharks? What are they again? Now go and jump in your cars, buy some Maccas, drink some Coke, and avoid those fearsome stingrays at all costs!
From various news outlets today:
'A STINGRAY leaped onto a boat off the Florida Keys and knocked a woman to the deck, killing her, wildlife investigators said.
"It's a bizarre accident," said Jorge Pino, an officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The US woman and her family were aboard a boat in the Atlantic Ocean, off the city of Marathon in the Florida Keys, he said.
"A large ray jumped out of the water and collided with the victim," Mr Pino said.
The impact threw the woman backward and she hit her head on the vessel, he said.
Investigators initially said one of the animal's venomous barbs had stabbed her, but they later said there was no sign of a puncture.
An autopsy was pending.
"We believe she died as a result of the impact between herself and the spotted eagle ray," said Gabriella Ferraro, a spokeswoman for the wildlife commission.
The 35kg ray and had a wingspan of 1.5m to 1.8m, Ms Ferraro said.
The boat was travelling about 40km/h when the ray collided with the woman, killing both, she said.
Investigators identified the woman as Judy Kay Zagorski, 57, of Pigeon, Michigan.
Spotted eagle rays are common in warm or tropical waters and are often seen near coral reefs. They can grow to more than 2.5m across and have two to six short, venomous barbs near the base of their whip-like tails, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History's website.
The rays often swim near the surface and can leap out of the water, especially when pursued, but are generally shy of humans.
"All rays leap out of the water from time to time but certainly to see one collide with a vessel is extremely unusual," Mr Pino said.
In 2006, a spotted eagle ray leaped onto another boat in Florida waters off the Fort Lauderdale area and pierced the heart of an 81-year-old man with its barb. He survived.
Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, was killed by another type of stingray while filming underwater on the Great Barrier Reef in 2006.
He died when a stingray's barb pierced his heart.'