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. elias lebron

    thank you JESUS CHRIST

    April 27, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Hammer Time

    i heard that jesus flew 2 planes into new york?!? /discuss

    April 27, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jw

    Exactly, we just THANK AND PRAISE THE LORD GOD for this girl's life and WOW!!!!!!!! People get really IRATE!!!!!!! I not cramming anything down anyone's throat as you say, but I do PUBLICLY THANK MY WONDERFUL GOD for saving her. Because when catastrophies happen it seems the world including the athiests who don't even believe he exists blame God saying "why did God let that happen". But NEVER any thanks or praise when you hear something wonderful.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dibble

    This is the angriest group of athiests I have seen

    April 27, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Moi


    April 27, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Claudia

    Maybe, just maybe, God allowed her to be stung, so that she can grow up to be a GREAT scientist, the next Madam Currie, and she'll figure out WHY she didn't die and develop and anti venom.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Man O' War

    Someone must have pissed on her after they got her out of the water. It works.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. answer

    reality.. – read revelation 22:13 – "I AM THE ALPHA AND OMEGA, THE FIRST AND THE LAST, THE BEGINNING AND THE END." therefore no one created God.. in the bible Moses also is trying to wrap his mind around a being so he asks him and God tells him "I AM"... the name's origins come from the verb, to be, so some read it as "I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE." others suggest it should be read like this: "I ALWAYS HAVE BEEN, I AM, AND I ALWAYS WILL BE." God has always "been" and always will "be".. to all the other atheists out there if you have questions.. the bible is the first place to look for answers not to attack other christians.. not trying to be mean but just saying that its something you have to read and seek on your own.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Hammer Time

    please explain this myth of the woman orgasm too.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. barry

    Phil – a warning is never a bad thing, and certainly comes from a good place...but damning one's soul to hell is a different story...too bad all christians aren't as sensible and emotionally balanced as you.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Stephen

    Everyone who is bashing God needs to take some time and get to know him. There is a reason for everything and none of us are capable of understanding what that is. God is LOVE and loves all people!

    April 27, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Andrew

    To serious........Maybe the reason people suffer is for humans to expierence compassion and sympathy, therefore making a change in the human condition. In order to learn one must think on a very diffrent plain of existance, and think outside the "human" box.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. arealist

    To archangel,
    If you had taken courses in basic evolution and biology the answers to the cliche chicken and egg problem are simple. A chicken predecessor (species A) reproduces and a mutation in either the male or female, (or both), create an offspring that is slightly different genetically. Now this new creature, since it survives, has a competitive advantage in some way and it reproduces. Eventually you end up with a species that cannot reproduce with species A. Now each time the egg develops it would most likely be slightly different and would depend very much on species. There are many variable that can come into play here, like for example radioactive material that causes mutation in an organism and it is possible that it could be the start of a new species (although very unlikely). This is how evolution works. A well documented and proven scientific theory. Just like relativity (if you don't understand relativity just substitute in Newtonian gravity, a close approximation), and many other scientific theories. Your point is short-sighted and you do a disservice to anyone who is religious, scientific, or any combination of the two.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Arike

    There is always a reason: To change your life; To change other peoples lives; To give hope; To be supportive and encouraging. A persons negative experiences can always work for good when they want it to. Some people just like staying stuck and looking for excuses. While you're trying to figure it out, GOD has already got it worked out. That IS the proof!! Whether you want to understand it, believe it or not. Some people spend their lives looking for ways to dispel or prove that GOD doesn't exist because they are just bitter. Or afraid. If that's what floats your boat then so be it. I'm not mad at those who don't believe. And they shouldn't hate on those who do. It is what it is, a belief. I believe that only GOD could have done for this child what science says it doesn't understand. Praise GOD for giving man the opportunity to question, study, explore and learn.
    Also, why are we blaming all the bad stuff on GOD? And he doesn't necessarily LET things happen. When things happen, we learn, good or bad. And we experience consequences. When I was young and misbehaved my parents punished me. I didn't understand it and I was mad and couldn't understand how they could be so cruel (that was my interpretation of it, sound familiar?) Of course, I eventually got a clue and am now a parent and have had to make difficult decisions on behalf of my children and now they have a clue...Some people never get a clue...That's too bad but life goes on

    April 27, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. You serious?

    Jw: Aethiests usually say "Why did god let that happen' in response to "It's God's will! A miracle!" from christians.

    I'm all for you people thanking God for this or that, but at least acknowledge the fact that the precepts of your religion also dictate that he put her there for this to happen to her in the first place. So, in essence, why thank him for something he set up. It's like a godly publicity stunt.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
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