April 27th, 2010
11:19 AM ET

Girl stung by venomous box jellyfish 'shouldn't be alive'

A biologist researches the lethal nature of the box jellyfish.

To call 10-year-old Rachel Shardlow a survivor is an understatement.

In December, the girl tangled with a box jellyfish, one of the world's most venomous creatures, in the Calliope River near Gladstone, Australia.

"Usually when you see people who have been stung by box jellyfish with that number of the tentacle contacts on their body, it's usually in a morgue," Jamie Seymour, a zoology and tropical ecology associate professor at James Cook University told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The creature didn't just sting the girl. It enveloped her: Its tentacles wrapped around her limbs and wouldn't let go. She couldn't see or breathe. The creature, which is capable of killing an adult in four minutes, wrapped its tentacles tighter and knocked her unconscious.

"I don't know of anybody in the entire literature where we've studied this where someone has had such an extensive sting that has survived," Seymour told ABC. "When I first saw the pictures of the injuries I just went, 'you know to be honest, this kid should not be alive'. I mean they are horrific."

After several weeks in the hospital Shardlow is still feeling the effects - but the fact she is feeling anything at all - let alone doing as well as she is baffles Seymour. For now, besides scarring and memory loss, she is doing well, her family told ABC.

ABC: Young stinger victim speaks out

There have been others who have survived being stung by the deadly jellyfish, but Seymour said many of them are stung quickly, but not to the extent Shardlow was and with as many tentacles wrapped around them, Seymour said.

Seymour and other Queensland researchers received a $40,000 grant to investigate just how lethal is the venom of Irukandji and its relative box jellyfish. They will also look for treatments to help those like Shardlow who are stung by them.

The jellyfish, found often in the Great Barrier Reef, can have as many as 15 tentacles on each corner of its bodies with nearly 5,000 stinging cells, according to a guide to sea creatures posted on the Great Barrier Reef site.

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soundoff (725 Responses)
  1. Swordfish

    Note to all God-fearing people: You are speaking into the VOID!!! Freethinkers are closed-minded. The natural mind does not, cannot understand spiritual things. STOP WASTING YOUR TIME!!!

    April 27, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Freethought

    "I personally believe there is a god and I will at least have a chance of eternal life while atheists will not have a chance."

    Sorry to break it to you, but you have no chance either.

    The truth doesn't care if you don't believe it.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Pat

    Freethought, you are on the right track. Please read post #502.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Freethought

    "Note to all God-fearing people: You are speaking into the VOID!!! Freethinkers are closed-minded. The natural mind does not, cannot understand spiritual things. STOP WASTING YOUR TIME!!!"

    Spoken like a true pope.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Swordfish

    Thank you ;-)

    April 27, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Please Learn to Spell Properly

    #473 no, I meant what I typed, when speaking 'to' someone there is an exchange going on. The odds of Bob seeing that I left a comment regarding him are very small, as are the odds of you seeing it, not to mention the odds of getting a response out of either of you. So I meant that I was talking 'at' him, just like I would talk 'at' a wall, not expecting any sort of response. Kind of like how I'm talking AT you right now. haha :D

    April 27, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Nurse Lisa

    To Ty – I have enough evidence to prove His existence to myself and have proven Him faithful in many ways over many years. But trying to convince you on matters of faith is a job only you can do for yourself.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Michael Utley

    Freethought, Like I said before it is all a matter of faith. If I am wrong what is the worst thing that will happen to me. I will be in the same boat as you. I would hate to be in your shoes if you are wrong.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Swordfish

    Well said Nurse Lisa!

    April 27, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Nurse Lisa

    TY – 539
    Dinosaur bones do not of themselves prove evolution; the bones are here because dinosaurs were here.

    Dude, it is even still called the THEORY of evolution rather than the law of because it is unprovable.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Freethought

    I believe you Pat. I am on the right track. I'm not sure if you get my meanng, though.

    Any passage in the bible that uses fear to compell one into submission proves that the Christian religion seeks to control rather than to allow for freedom.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Freethought

    "Dude, it is even still called the THEORY of evolution rather than the law of because it is unprovable."

    Actually, it has been proven, and even documented many times during our lifetime. Sorry, truth wins again.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Cindy

    We'll all meet on Judgement Day and we will all find out ifGod exists or not. But right now, I thank God for all the blessings we receive, esp. the survival of this little girl!

    April 27, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. The Great Debate

    No one can KNOW whether or not God played a role in saving the childs life. What many of us choose to believe through faith is that God does not punish us for our sins in this lifetime by sending giant jellyfish to sting us or a random drive-by shotting, but rather gave us the ultimate gift of love and forgiveness for eternity so that when our time comes (through tragedy or through a peaceful death in bed), we may live on with Him.

    On a side note: Freethought; how small minded and childish to say "Score, match and game" to the worlds oldest and most debated question. Do you really believe your few words are the ultimate end-all-be-all to THE great debate? Perhaps you should open your mind?

    April 27, 2010 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Swordfish

    Really? Has macro-evo been proven...please site sources, Freethought.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
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