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.

Post by:
Filed under: Australia • Health • Web Pulse • World
soundoff (725 Responses)
  1. Army Vet

    Tto "Believer": The Devil??? Seriously??? The Devil???
    After the tornados in Mississippi, one of the curch folks said, "We know that Jesus is in charge." Really??? Then why don't you ask him why he dropped a tornado on your head!
    As someone once said: "God kill true believers and kind souls everyday and he gets a free pass becuase people believe that his murder and mayhem are part of some 'Divine Plan.'"

    April 27, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. barry

    I think the atheist position is a defensive position, brought about in response to the horrible, evil crimes of religion through the ages. Being attacked (or worse) in the name make-believe has simply become unbearable to the more evolved among us.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Eric

    phil scientists havent proven everything and nor will they ever be able to prove everything.. for example.. prove where morals came from and why we live by them??? i dont know why? but i would say that the reason we do is because if we didnt use them then this world would be in complete chaos... and secondly even though scientists know all the facts about tangible things there will always be a mystery about something else.. and if you (the scientists) knew everything about life and living... then... wouldnt you BE God??? chew on that son..

    April 27, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Guest


    April 27, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Disgusted

    This post is like being in the ocean surrounded by jelly fish.....stingy and venomous........

    April 27, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Army Vet

    To Jo: "Things happen for a reason??? Maybe you want to believe that, but guess what: Bad things happen all the time FOR NO REASON!
    What about the folks who were killed in the tsunami a few years back. One minute you're relaxing on the beach and the next minute a 50 foot wave is dragging you out to sea!
    NO REASON! Just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Darth Cynic

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

    So, just what is an 'athisis' when it's at home and just how do I go about 'bashung' other peoples faith or anything for that matter? Oh and I would point out that one cannot hate what one does not believe exists; now a Satanist, they might hate god.

    "What's sad is that, in this day an age, people cannot simply accept that others have different belief systems and feel the need to disrupt an otherwise amazing story with flaming."

    Well if some ignorant – since removed but far too late it seems – had not gone out of their way to proclaim this rare event as proof positive of the almighty's benevolent intervention, then went on to stick it up to any reading atheist, well we would probably not have the problem. Of course what is truly sad is that anyone would just cease to have any further inquiry by blithely rolling out the dead end of 'goddidit', all so they presumably can reassure their own weak conviction in His existence by pretending to see it everywhere.

    As for those whining about the nasty unbelievers, well again let us remind ourselves that it was the god botherers that felt so compelled to drag the sky daddy in at a very early stage. Just where do you folks get the notion that only those who praise the lord get a voice or opinion, but everyone else should just be respectfully quiet? Get off that high horse you sanctimonious clowns, you don't rule the roost anymore and no, we will not pander to your demands to be left alone, not until you stop proselytizing your damn faith at every opportunity. Besides just how should any atheist respond to smug declarations like we shall all be judged and sent to a fiery punishment? Ridicule is a perfectly appropriate manner for the hateful screed spewed from unthinking cretins at any who don't believe exactly like they do.

    Oh and Mrs Lamdon, no one is being violent towards the girl, try reading next time.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Disgusted

    Hey mg............ now that is sound logic that many are missing. Good one.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. barry

    do christians believe in extraterrestrial life? I am truly curious...

    April 27, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lanie

    Rachel, take your miracle and doing something special with your life. Pray for a speedy recovery.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. thelogical1

    They need to take a sample of her blood.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  12. robert

    "do christians believe in extraterrestrial life? I am truly curious..." – barry

    Most of the ones I've know thought that earth was the only place where god created life therefore they don't believe in aliens.

    yea.. more stars than grains of sand on the earth.. yet, our star is the only one with life.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Daniel

    Eric, what the hell are you blathering about? First of all, write like a grown-up. Secondly, "prove where morals came from"? That is one of the dumbest things I've ever read, all the more so because you think it makes some point about God. At no point do you come close to forming a rational thought, and certainly you do not effectively rebut the points made by phil. Basically you have just achieved an argument FAIL.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. C McCoy

    If surviving a sea creature attack is the direct interference of God (miracle), then can we say conclusively that God killed Steve Irwin?

    In this case I am betting we find out she had on a sunblock that was just the right composition to inhibit the stingers, or that her young skin had properties that prevented a lethal dose from entering the bloodstream. While I am not against the idea of miracles happening, attributing every bit of fortune in the world to God means you have to attribute every bit of tragedy to Him as well. Best leave God out of this and just say it was an amazing bit of luck.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49