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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soundoff (725 Responses)
  1. Mike

    You Serious....

    You're right...but what does that have to do with the existence of God? The dates that most Christian holidays are celebrated were decided on by man pushing his beliefs "in the name of God". The problem with your arguement is that it's directed at decisions made by the early church to push out the then prominent pagan religions rather than the question at hand which is "does God exist?".

    So I'll ask again...how does making the arguement that we celebrate Christmas, Easter or any other Christian holiday on pagan holidays disprove the existence of God?

    April 27, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bob S.

    It seems to me that some of the folks who just have to bring God into this, need to re-examin just what God is, or who God is! And such ignorance followed by "I truely believe that God had a plan..." is so silly. Makes people look so silly...and it sure gives God a bad name! Where do they get such notions..."I truly believe that God..." Based on what? Sit back, and let time and events inform your mind; make no statements until you really KNOW what's going on. Such broad statements give a bad name to God and those of us who have Faith. Faith based on guess-work and wishful thinking is not faith at all! So, until you REALLY know...shhhhhhhh...let God be God, and forget the non-informed preaching. You hurt the cause!


    April 27, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. PUR man

    They should study the girl's immune system. Is a true miracle that she survived that ordeal. 1 in a million. Interesting story indeed, the 1st real case that survives such a close encounter because 99% of the encounter are FATAL – especially under the circumstances. Wow may god bless her – she got a second chance in life!

    April 27, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. lol???????

    I wish the speedy recovery for this kid...

    But come on I believe in god but why is it a miracle when we hear about one kid living through some thing but we look the other way when something bad happens like starvation, rape, murder and a bunch of other bad acts but... would god really care about us then... we might be just his type of entertainment, his TV per say, and he threw in one of these "miracles" to through some excitement into it.

    Think about it?

    April 27, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. barry

    answer: I did. May I suggest you read "Why Evolution is True" by Jerry Coyne for an alternative view on "The Truth"

    April 27, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jeff

    The picture shown hear is very miss leading. A box jellyfish is about the size of someone's finger nail with long tentacles attached. It is still quite remarkable that she survived.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Louisle Roi

    Umm does anyone actually want to talk about Box Jellyfish or perhaps just jellyfish in general to maybe bring the conversation back to the subject? The article doesn't even pertain to religion...

    April 27, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Elletra

    You people are jerks, I bet you're the kind that get angry when someone says 'God bless you' when someone sneezes, or god forbid 'Merry Christmas'; you're entitled to your views but that doesn't mean you get to belittle people if their views are different. So THANK GOODNESS this little girl survived, let people pray and praise god if they wish, or praise the doctors that saved her. STOP LOOKING TO START A FIGHT, and just be happy you live in a country that allows you to opine as you please.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. anon

    It is the epitome of arrogance to suggest that an all-powerful super-being capable of creating the entire universe is focusing all of its attention on a tiny little ball of rock floating in the Orion Arm of the vast Milky Way Galaxy.

    The Milky Way Galaxy is over 100,000 light years across, and there are thousands of such galaxies in the universe. Do you really think that something with the power to create the vast universe that we live in would concern itself with such small-scale matters? If anything resembling a God does exist, then its in a form that we truly cannot comprehend, and it would take no notice of our planet when it has the entire universe at its command, let alone a single individual.

    I think one issue a lot of religious people can't come to terms with is how truly insignificant we are in the big picture. A lot of the appeal behind religion has to do with the ego. If you believe that an all-powerful super-being is watching over you and others who think like you, then that makes you feel special and better than anyone who doesn't believe in the same things you do. The condescending attitude expressed by the religious people posting here is a reflecting of that.

    The fact of the matter is that we, as a species are woefully ignorant of how the universe works. Sure, with our primitive scientific equipment we have a general idea on how it all came to be, and we have a general idea on what the universe consists of, but it will be thousands of years before we even begin to have an inkling of an understanding of the forces at work here.

    My overall point is that the useless bickering here on who is right, and if god exists or not, serves nothing and overall is a general waste of time. Instead you should focus on making the most of your brief existence here on this planet before you inevitably expire.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. You serious?

    Stephen: I actually study some theology as a hobby. Not out of belief, but out of morbid curiousity, really. As for god loving everyone... you haven't read the Old Testament, have you? Give it a gander and come back. See if you still think God loves everyone.

    Arike: By your book, God is all knowing and all powerful.. saying he doesn't let things happen or make them happen is just niave. Additionally, there is no "proof" in anything you just said. As far as looking for ways to disprove god: five minutes of logical thought and and a little knowledge can get you to that point. Doesn't take very long.

    As for aetheists being bitter. Hardly. Some aetheists I know are the most laid back and happy people I know.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Hawaiikaos

    @nuno it's incredibly irresponsible to say we should wipe out an entire species simply because it occasionally threatens us (other humans are our biggest threat, so does that mean we should go on a killing spree of anyone who gives us a sideways glance?) We are part of the ecosystem and biosphere - we are not on top of it, and we are certainly not the dominant species (that would be bacteria, which far outweigh us in mass and influence).

    Also, it would be virtually impossible to eliminate a species so prolific, simply because it has no commercial usage. It would be a massive waste of time and money to attempt it.

    For the other peeps going on about the chicken/egg, come on, it's obvious. The egg came first. We are all descended from single-celled organisms. If most people don't understand this, then there is something hideously wrong and shameful about our high school science curriculum.

    For the atheist haters:

    1) to say that god exists requires you to prove it. An event that seems unexplainable does not constitute proof, especially when you give up so easily on any attempt at explaining it (which is a shocking lack of imagination, since there could be several possible concrete explanations to explore, like she is naturally resistent, or the animals venom was weak, etc)

    2) atheists, by and large, are not angry haters. We're just exasperated and incredulous that anyone can literally believe in the bulk of religious tosh out there. A creator of the multiverse might exist, but a divine hand that steers everyday events, um NO. How would that not violate the laws of physics? Read up on science to understand why we get upset so easily.

    3) "witnessing" to us doesn't work. Unless and until you can come up with cogent arguments that don't rely on crusty old bronze age manuscripts, don't even bother, because we'll argue you under the table every time.

    4) Don't expect us to respect your view, simply because it's your view, or because it's traditional that people respect religious authority. We already know that you don't respect our views (or the actual facts). Also, the internet has emboldened us and brought us together. 15 years ago I bet every atheist on this board thought of him or herself as weird or abnormal, now that we know that we're not unusual, we will no longer be held back by tradition. We're here, we're out, and we're growing.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Phil

    I agree. But the fact that you believe in a Soul means that you believe in an existence after this "life". If I even suspect that the consequence to your eternal existence from not believing in God is damnation of your Soul, shouldn't I at least express that belief and warn you? I don't accept forced preaching but a warning at least. And then I have expressed my love as my Lord Jesus commanded me and I leave the choice to you just as He has. Hasn't it been said that "...all that evil needs to succeed is for good men to do nothing?"

    April 27, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JO LOPEZ

    uh I thought this was about a girl getting horribly stung...

    April 27, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. GJK

    I just happened to read this article about an incident that defies probability, and thus was worthy of mention.
    I was surprised at the posts that followed attacking someone for making a comment about God.
    If I read something that offended me, I might be inclined to think "Oh, this person doe not know what they are talking about" or "I don't really agree with that person", and just leave it at that.
    I am convinced that the world would be a much better place if people did not vilify or publicly denounce others that do not agree with their position.
    All of this precludes the existence of a supernatural world which is not readily discernible by our present level of technology. Therefore we are not in a place to confirm or deny it's existence.
    I feel it is in order to say that some people really just need to grow up.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Frank

    Praise Poseidon the merciful for sparing this girl; he is truly the god of the sea. A special thanks to the person (whomever you are) that drowned a horse as a sacrifice to Poseidon for it pleased him so.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
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