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. Freethought

    "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."


    We just 'popped out'? Four BILLION years of evolution falls within the 'popped out' timeframe to you? Do you even know how long that is? Wow, you must be very hard to impress. That is, of course, until someone ties the word "miracle' to a news article.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. E man

    Everyone is forgetting that had the girl not been swimming in possibly jelly box infested waters, chances are this would NOT have happened. Keep God out of this. God helps those who seek help. Maybe the miracle is that she SURVIVED this attack, Remember, when you swim in the ocean you are an intruder to any creature that lives there. Just like i would defend myself if you break into my home, sea creatures would do the same but with less logic.

    What if this was an act of God. To assist scientists on how in fact this girl survived when in reality she should be dead and possibly finding some sort of antibody to help prevent death from these lethal stings. Post #4 has a great point.

    Just remember, if something good comes out of this it would have NEVER happened had she not been stung. Everything in this life happens for a reason.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Nola lady

    Wow. I wonder if this little girl has some unique genetic protection ... or super immune system or something that helped her counter the attack of this jellyfish. Amazing. I hope she recovers fully and with as little scarring as possible (both mentally and physically).

    April 27, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Be Nice

    Some of you believe in God, others don't. Move on.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Marc

    Millions of innocent children die of preventable deaths every day around the world... where's GOD for them?

    April 27, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. LL

    Yall are funny. If you believe or not, it sure doen not change that God is alive, helped this little girl and LOVES you way more than you know! Have a great day!

    April 27, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. barry

    what if, the bible was simply written as a story or fable to inspire human beings to treat each other properly? no need to inflate it into a sacred text...just read it and treat others nicely (which also means stop telling the non-belivers they are going to hell – that is very mean). additionally, you believers sure seem to be handing down judgement on your fellow man – thought your "bible" said that was a bad thing to do? I would be happy if you guys would simply follow the example of your "christ"...instead you so frequently cause others pain because of what you "feel" is true....not so impressive – you don't make a very compelling case for the non-believers to hear you.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jo

    Hope the little girl regains her memory completely and God brings her back to complete strength again.

    these atheists on CNN are funny. you throw a comment on God to them, they pounce on it and forget why they were on this page at the first place. I was reading the progression of the comments, until this user posted the word 'God' on his comment... man didnt they pounce... these atheists are the real conservatives. they call themselves liberals, but they are everything except that. they hate people who dont believe what they do, or accept what they say, or believe their theories and sciences... get angry and frustrated in a split sec when they see a different line of thought... conservatism is back, just that its on the other side now...

    April 27, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sharon

    I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn't, than to live my life as if there isn't and die to find out there is...!!

    April 27, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mr Steve

    I'm not sure how this post became a GOD debate. Or why we need to take a stand either way. I for one believe in GOD and believe he works in very different ways then we can ever imagine. I can’t say if he was merciful, I can’t say if man is supposed to swim in the ocean, I can’t say if the jelly fish is sorry, I can’t say what is what. THANK GOD SHE LIVED....
    I think the universe is way too complex to say what is what on a posting board and there is less than zero reasons to insult each other you don’t agree with. Let’s start being nicer to each other Sheese,,

    Look at information like this,. Picture your mind as an empty glass; the glass can hold 10 to the 100 power of information. Picture the universe as a giant pitcher of water maybe 10 to the 100000000000000000000000power . If the universe would pour information into your glass and fill the entire scope of what we could understand considering we found a way to use 100% of our brain power you will still have so much information left over we would actually have to forget something we learned to learn something new.. If you pour water into a full glass it simply spills over the side and does not get into the glass.. NONE OF US UNDERSTAND MUCH. SO NO ONE IS IN A POSITION TO SAY!!!

    All these things equal we will probably never understand what is what. Believe what you want if it makes your life better. I want to believe in GOD, I want to believe it’s a test and he will eventually give us eternal happiness; THAT’S what gets me through the tough days. It also motivates me to treat people with kindness and I try to be the best person I can. I never talk religion with anyone however if asked I do believe in GOD. I also believe I’m a good person. So if I’m wrong so what. At the end of the day, the girl is alive and I’m happy she is.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Deborah

    I've eaten jellyfish along with a coldcuts appetizer plate at a Chinese restuarant. Humans are still higher on the food chain, but wow, that must've been amazing to survive that!

    April 27, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. LL

    Oh and PS–there is also a very evil spirit loose on the earth called the devil. He doesnt love you though, just wants to steal, kill and destroy everything in your life including your life. Gods the way. Let me clarify. Jesus Christ the Son of God is the way to God! Glory be to His name!

    April 27, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. NoReligion

    "Notice how all the atheists yell like they're mad at God. if you had any intelligence or character, you would create a strong, objective argument on your point, not yell and whinge like some self-righteous ape. (yes, that was an evolution pun)"

    How does someone create a strong objective argument to someone that believes Eve had a conversation with a snake or an omnipotent God that flooded the planet because man was evil only to populate the world again with evil man?

    April 27, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ShadowStriker

    John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word (logos), and the Word was with (pros) God (ton Theon), and the Word was God (Theos, no article in front tells us that as to the nature of the logos, DEITY).

    Anyways, the girl survived the poisonous venom of a box jellyfish. How did she survived? There were no immediate medic administered to her nor any science formulas applied to her. She survived from somekind of "unexplained" phenomenon. Well, the "unexplained" has obviously been explained here. She survived becuase she had a strong WILL to live. During her struggle to survive, she must of had an intimate conversation with God the Father, just like Jesus did saying, "Not my will but thou be done!" We all do it. When we are in our most perilous times, whether we realize it or not, we always look up or look for some kind of deity for intervention. Even atheists do. Look at the day of 9/11! Practically the whole United States of America turned to God. At the end, when we don't have a strong Will for God, we will be accountable during Judgement Day hearing either, "Enter though into..." or "Depart from me..."

    April 27, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Bewildered

    So, I read this great article about this 10 year old girl. Then I read all of the comments afterwards. If there is one reason to be a person of faith, it's to avoid becoming as cynical and venomous as some of the posters here. It's sad that you can't simply live your life without attacking those who don't have the same belief system as you.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
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