If there is one inhabitant of Guianese rivers that is feared virtually everywhere, it’s certainly the freshwater stingray. This cartilaginous fish has adapted to all types of waters: from the mouths of the great rivers at the coast, through small creeks in forests, all the way to their source.
Freshwater stingrays are regularly encountered in the Trésor reserve, from the floodplains of the Orapu, up to small creeks higher in the forest. They are, however, not found in water with a lot of rocks and relief, which is mainly on the higher part of the mountain of Kaw.
The freshwater stingrays belong to the genus Potamotrygon, of which three species are known in French Guiana: P. histrix, P. orbignyi and P. marinae.
The fear of an encounter with a stingray is justified. Indeed, like many of his marine cousins, Guianese freshwater stingrays have a serrated sting on their tail covered with venomous mucus, which they will plant in your flesh if they feel threatened or cornered. The danger mainly comes from the lifestyle of these fish: they spend most of their time posed and partially buried on the bottom of the river, becoming almost invisible to swimmers. The sting is very painful and has a high risk of infection, especially if it is not treated quickly.
Before swimming in a risky site with sand and mud banks and slower and deeper areas, it is wise to thoroughly inspect the area and even search the area with a long pole to dislodge a possible fish hidden in the substrate. The stingrays are shy animals that, once touched, avoid contact a second time unless they are agitated again.