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. gabe

    sorry but the writer isnt a smart one! yes its amazing that the girl lived but "[it] wrapped its tentacles tighter and knocked her unconscious."...the writer clearly has never seen a jelly fish! jellyfish have no muscles at all...it is not capable is wrapping and presumably strangled and poisoned the girl...? a jellyfish couldnt strangle a mouse more or less a 60-90lbs human girl...do a lil research buddy...go watch the discovery channel or something please...

    April 27, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Nurse Lisa

    God is not a child abuser. The devil attacked, God protected in the midst of trial.

    Jesus said in John 10:10 – The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have [it] more abundantly.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Michael Utley

    It was a miracle that this little girl survived that encounter. I think it is amusing that the atheists are out in full force to knock on the religious. Let me sum it up. It is all a matter of faith. A religious person does not have to prove the existance of god to non believers. We just have faith that there is a god. Atheists are relying on faith also. They put their faith in scientists explanations of the big bang theory and how we all developed from pond scum. Oh and by the way mathmaticians have shot holes in that theory. 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.

    Good day

    April 27, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Freethought

    json – well said.

    I personally think Jesus Christ gave a wonderful example for all to follow (no, I'm not one of those who doubts he existed). As an atheist, I wish more people (especially Christians) would try harder to be like that wonderful man.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. 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 |
  6. 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 |
  7. Pat

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

    April 27, 2010 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. 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 |
  9. Swordfish

    Thank you ;-)

    April 27, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. 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 |
  11. 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 |
  12. 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 |
  13. Swordfish

    Well said Nurse Lisa!

    April 27, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. 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 |
  15. 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 |
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