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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Filed under: Australia • Health • Web Pulse • World
soundoff (725 Responses)
  1. Junebugj

    John, please don't write anything else. I have sharp objects near me that I may be forced to use on myself. ugh.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kerri

    Wow. I wish the girl the best and am relieved that she lived through that. What a story she has to tell!

    April 27, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Chris Stevens

    For some no explanation is required, for others no explanation will suffice.

    Ever actually see" anything" spontaneously create itself ? Get a clue before
    it's too late !!

    April 27, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |

    It's funny that atheists get so mad.. Why not let the believers believe what they want to believe?.. Why do u care so much? As for it being God that intervened; No one really knows, but if Joe Seeinincommentguy wants to believe that, then who cares?

    Me? I think it takes much more Faith to believe that SOMETHING (Space, Earth, Us, etc) was formed from NOTHING, for NO REASON. I've researched enough to know that none of this is possible w/o some form of higher power to create and keep it all in place. To say 'we just popped out of nowhere and here we are on this big rock that can independantly remain stable in this solar system in this universe' is Faith in something beyond "God", and that I cannot even fathom.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jen

    I am so glad to hear that she will recover. As a mother of three, my heart goes out to her family.

    As for those folks that need to use something like use to compare who is right or wrong, shame on you. If you are intolerant of other people's beliefs, then consider that someone may or may not agree with you.

    Not everyone feels or thinks the same way, surely that is still allowed.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. @JR

    Sure....leave GOD out of it, we have left Him out of schools/government/etc., and the world is a much better place today than it was 20-30 years ago :rollingmyeyessmiley: And don't give me the garbage response of that has nothing to do with this post, I think it is very sad that any time someone mentions God, or they believe God had something to do with an event, they are ridiculed in this manner. I BELIEVE God certainly had a hand in this, if you don't that is your right.....and if you don't mind terribly I will pray for you and people like you that some day you will to believe in Him.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DARLA


    On the day that you look into the face of our Lord Jesus Christ, you will know that he the Lord of all, King of Kings and Lord of Lords and regret all that you are saying about our Father in heaven. You will bow down before him.

    Praise the name of Jesus! Our King!

    April 27, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |

    The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Psalm 14:1

    April 27, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. nancy mattson

    Just for the record, lets leave God out of this. It simple was not her time to go. Glad she is doing better.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. barry

    ...come on, we all know that religions are designed to coax (fool?) the less intelligent masses into behaving themselves. It can be a very effective behavior control mechanism. Of course, the problem is that we are talking about the "less intelligent masses" (generally)...contemplating the meaning of life on earth is pretty heady stuff – they are, unfortunately, ill-equiped to deal with the biggest of all questions...it must feel like their little heads are going to explode!

    April 27, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jen

    something like this, sorry

    April 27, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Disgusted

    Imagine all these people in the same room at one time..................

    April 27, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. frank

    I wonder if the military will try to make a biological weapon out of these little stingers they seem to be pretty effective.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. rusty

    "screw u athisis she survived because of luck and if u hate god dont be a dick by bashung other peoples faith"

    Chase: calm down, buddy. People are never going to agree when it comes to religion or world views. But, we'll always have the internet to make us feel like bad asses. That's the great thing about these posts. You can do it with almost complete anonymity.

    But more power to you, Chase. You just pump out some verbal vodka without even thinking. I am a bit more filtered, personally.

    What I'm getting at (haven't had enough coffee) is that you sound like an alcoholic caveman.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jack

    I knew the day that jellyfish was born that God had a plan in mind for it. It's only a shame that it had to die so that science could learn from it. RIP, brave self-sacrificing jelly. You'll be missed.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
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