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. Hammer Time

    It is completely unbelievable how some of you think. God this, god that..... I love god so much, i FAP to the bible. Maybe everyone should FAP to the bible and see a new light!! oh yeah, Get well soon!

    April 27, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mmartin2

    God MUST have a purpose for this little girl, why else would she have saved the little girl? Of course god had no use or purpose for all the people who died today, why else would she have killed them all?

    Do you people ever listen to yourselves? Are you really so desperate to prove the existence of your imaginary friend in the sky that you would use a story like this as evidence? Millions of people die every day. Billions more continue to live. If one more person lives rather than dies then that is called chance, take a class in statistics some time, you may learn something.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. daisy

    This is truly an amazing story regardless of anyone's beliefs. Bashing people's beliefs in God is wrong and intolerant. For a society that likes to delude themselves into thinking how far they've come with their knowledge of the world, you have much to learn about actual tolerance. There are people in this world that have different beliefs in you. Get over it.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. You serious?

    β€œIs God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

    Anyway, on a real note: I'm glad she's doing well.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kassil

    Ouch. Lucky girl.


    April 27, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mike

    Can someone please help me understand the thought process behind the belief that science and God must be mutually exclusive?

    April 27, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Satire for Jesus

    Yes, God must have a porpoise for her. I'd rather see Flipper make a comeback personally.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Satire for Jesus

    Jesus MUST have a popsicle for her as well.

    Orange cream can't miss.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joe

    As soon as I saw the title of this story I just KNEW that the comments would devolve into a debate about the existence of God. So predictably BORING!!!!!

    April 27, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. CM

    What kind of a reptile would possibly mate with that mutant lizard/chicken? Following natural selection rules, none. So how could it survive to evolve?

    April 27, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. barry

    the fact that so many of the believers on this blog feel constantly attacked for their "beliefs" is a promising sign that the mind of Man is evolving.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Satire for Jesus

    I in fact have a purpose for her... To bring out middle American thanks in the Lawd!

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

    The smartest people on planet earth have not been able to PROVE the origin of life and the earth and all its wonder. Every year we hear of something "mind blowing" and something we never thought possible. Thinking of humans and life and all its complexities seems a little far fetched to be an accident. For those who are believers in God or a higher power, I am too. For those who don't believe, and would rather put your faith in fallible scientists who can'tconclusively offer you proof of your "better explanation", try thinking bigger than the simple minded guy standing next to you. It doesn't make someone stupid to believe in something larger than life as we know it. In my life, too many things have happened to be considered coincidence...many great and wonderful things, in fact. Don't be so small in your thinking ... but if you choose to be, don't put others down that have other ideas about existence and the God that created it. One day, we will all know for sure.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Eric

    well daniel, i mean steven hawking cause your so smart, why didnt you rebut my comment and explain yourself... it sounds like you dont really know and you are just trying to insult instead of using your "scientist" brain of yours... GOT EM' hows it feel to be OWNED!!!

    April 27, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. J.Crobuzon

    Knock off the God stuff. He isn't responsible for traffic accidents, bee stings, or beer goggles. That's your free will, remember? He didn't send the jellyfish or push the little girl, all the random factors just aligned.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
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