Just when you thought it was safe to go back in Napier's water...

A stingray measuring 3m in length has given a member of the public a surprise in Pandora Pond.

The long-tailed stingray was alive and flapping, but trapped by the incoming tide, and staff from the National Aquarium rushed to the scene at 11am on Tuesday.

They poured water over its back as the tide came in before the majestic sea creature was able to swim back out to sea.

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"He probably came in from the sea looking for food then when the tide went out, he got stuck," said Regan McDougall, supervisor of fish and life support systems at the National Aquarium.

National Aquarium staff member keeping the stingray wet. Photo / National Aquarium of New Zealand
National Aquarium staff member keeping the stingray wet. Photo / National Aquarium of New Zealand

"I've heard of people seeing stingrays but not being stuck in a smaller pool like this one was," McDougall said.

Stingrays often burrow in more shallow areas.

"It's a good reminder for people swimming in these areas to shuffle their feet, the stingray will usually flee if humans are around," McDougall said.

If any other stingrays are spotted call 0800 DOC HOT to report it.