Stingray attack ordeal doesn't end in the water

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 09:47 14/02/2013
Stingray attack
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ

PATCHED UP: Suspected stingray victim Jason Chisholm recovers with his partner, Leisa Sheat.

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A battle with a stingray, searing pain, rising tidal waters and failing technology turned one Southland man's weekend from relaxing to terrifying.

Waimatuku man Jason Chisholm was enjoying a relaxing dip in the sea at Waimatuku beach on Sunday when his leg was gashed by something in the water.

He initially thought he had been attacked by a shark, he said.

However, the slashes on his calves and puncture wound on his leg suggested they were caused by a stingray.

"I was just behind the breakers at Waimatuku when something went through my legs and then I felt an electric current and pain go through my calves," he said.

"I scrambled for dry land and saw a large gash and blood in multiple places making me think I had been bitten by a shark."

Using his shirt as a tourniquet, but with another stretch of water to cross before reaching his vehicle, he was worried about the possibility of "the shark" still swimming around.

"There was a lot of blood and I think I was in a bit of shock."

Making it safely through the water to his vehicle, he was dismayed to find the tidal stream rising around where he was parked.

Concerned about his wounds and desperate to get to first aid, Chisholm tried to use his truck's demobiliser but it would not work and he was unable to unlock his doors.

Alone with rising water, a locked Toyota Surf and his phone on the front seat Chisholm said he was in a dilemma and losing blood.

"I managed to get into my truck through the back window and get to my phone. But when I went to ring my partner Leisa, I noticed the battery symbol on my phone flashing," he said.

Luckily, there was enough life in his phone to reach his partner who drove to find him, with spare keys.

Eventually able to reach the Waimatuku Garage and call an ambulance,  Chisholm was taken to hospital for treatment where staff ruled out a shark attack and thought it more likely his injuries were from a stingray.

Recovering, Chisholm said he did not believe the stingray deliberately attacked him but it was likely he disturbed the creature.

He also wanted his story to be a warning to other beach goers to be wary of the presence of stingrays and other sea dwellers that could cause injury.

Department of Conservation biodiversity ranger Ros Cole said the warmer currents along the southern coast during summer provided suitable conditions for stingrays and other species.

It also brought them closer to shore. However they did not go out of their way to attack people, she said.

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- The Southland Times

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