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. GJK

    Yep, like I said "some people just need to grow up."
    At any rate, CNN is a news forum to report about events in our world. The story itself was neutral. An unprecedented event happened, and for that we should be thankful.
    Seriously folks, don't you have anything more constructive to do with your time?

    April 27, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mitch

    Holy cow....how did an article about a girl being stung by a jellyfish turn into a religious discourse. Maybe God did have something to do with it. Maybe it was just luck....maybe God made her lucky. The bottom line is we should study this little girl's blood and make something positive out of this. And, Jeff, a box jellyfish is up to 10' long and 10" across, according to the National Geographic website....Box jellies, also called sea wasps and marine stingers, live primarily in coastal waters off Northern Australia and throughout the Indo-Pacific. They are pale blue and transparent in color and get their name from the cube-like shape of their bell. Up to 15 tentacles grow from each corner of the bell and can reach 10 feet (3 meters) in length. Each tentacle has about 5,000 stinging cells, which are triggered not by touch but by the presence of a chemical on the outer layer of its prey.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. guest

    my "lord" no pun intended. This story is about a little girl who is stung by a box jelly fish and survives. Good "god", again no pun intended, whe does society have to hide behind all of these religious hypocricies? Maybe we should be think about and support our troops who are fightiing for your right to pray to god istead of having a blogging holy war!

    April 27, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Inwardfire

    Man, this generation that is so angry at God is unbelievable. You know it rains on the just and the unjust the sun comes up and goes down on all of us. Good things happen to good people and bad people alike. You unbelieving souls have cried for soooooo long to take God out of the picture because you don't want any rules of justification for what you do or want to do. Theres a time and place for everything, I don't think the time to tell everyone publicly after a disaster ie: Haiti that it was Gods Judgement (not exactly the right time) however it probably was. They were not a God fearing nation and did give themselves over to Satan/fact!!!! go to the Library, I'm not gonna educate you do it yourself. What matters is you were given one life what are you gonna do with it and you will give account for it on Judgement day/which even though you choose not to believe is irrelivant/Truth is Truth and you can't change that/you only ignore it. Remember for right now it's still a free nation which won't last long because you who are the Jimmy, Jimmy, Gimmie Gimmie generation will soon find out once the Government keeps going the direction it is will no longer have ANY!! freedom, the Government will have the right to tell you everything and it's coming soon. I'm still shocked if this posting is even allowed to be posted I can only imagine you Liberals screaming at the top of your lungs, I just sit back and pity you, You fools are so blind to the truth. This little girl, Again, others have said, Thank you Jesus, for saving her and I pray you use her life in a powerful way to your Glory, Amen to that God Haters. Can't wait to see your responses, which is just Hot/stinky air being blown out. Jesus Love you. Get Saved. There's still Hope for you.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. tsz70

    It's not God who causes pain. It's people. And look at all this spewing going on because of one article, which began after one person attributed Rachel's survival to God – and the bashing continued with others who choose not to have faith.

    God gave us free will – to think, to act, to live. He also gave us guidelines (commandments) to live by. Do you think those commandments were designed to hurt us? Please, take a look at them. If we choose to disobey these commandments, there may be, and usually are, direct consequences as a result. Do those results make you feel good or bad about your behavior? Had you chosen a different path, would the outcome had been more favorable?

    Don't blame God for the bad things that happen, or say there is no God or that God must be evil due to all the evil beings and doings on earth. Truly, you don't have all the answers, though you may think you do. Nor do I. And I am content in placing my trust in the one who does.

    God can make all things work for good. Have a little faith, for Heaven's sake. And have some respect for the people that do believe, even if you don't. Please don't use blasphemy, either. That truly is offensive.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. toni

    Than k you PUR man. Finally some one has some sense. Personally, Though I don't think she should be studied.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jeff S

    Now everybody play nice, or I'll send the Flying Spaghetti Monster after all of you....

    April 27, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JellyFishSuck

    What does it tell you, oh mighty collective, that the people who are attributing her amazing survival to GOD have positive things to say and the "non-believers" just seem to spew hateful cynical words about simple positive statements. Maybe looking inward would help us all.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bromung

    Wow. Just wow. Happy for the girl in surviving but I just have to say the person that said "What a wonderfull creature, we need to study it more." Is just plain dumb as a box of rocks and completely lacking any sense of tact.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Phil

    Sorry. Thought when you mentioned "...damning one's soul to hell is a different story" that you believed in a soul. But you are right, we don't know that a Soul really exists and we won't until either science advances enough to prove it's existence (not a very likely event in my opinion) or until we leave this life. Since faith doesn't rely on science though, that's where my thoughts turn to providing the warning. If I wait until I can prove that my Soul is real and that God is real and that the "afterlife" is real, it will be too late to warn my fellow human beings. I don't want to play the preacher here because that's not my style. Just providing food for thoughts. Peace be with you.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. guest

    You Know God created my middle finger that i point at everyone who must bring religion into everything. Freking Hypocrites. Instead of giving your 10% salary to you church, how about sen that 10% to the family to help with medical bills. Medical bills they are incurring because of god?

    April 27, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. You serious?

    Well, Rivi... prove to me that Ishtar, Isis, Inana, Hecate, Thoth, or even baldur do not exist and that your God is the king of the sandbox.

    In the bible, it is said not to put any other Gods before God. So, does that imply the existance of others? What if Cernunnos said he was the Alpha and Omega and it was printed ina book? Would that trump yaweh?

    April 27, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kimberly

    OMG! I hope you feel better.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. guest

    Allah did this!

    April 27, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. CNN HLN

    CNN Headline News Top Story: Girl surviving jelly fish sting ignites Atheist vs. Christian war!

    In what has to be one of the most amazing/ridiculous twist of events, an all out war has broken out between those who believe in God and those who don’t. It all started when a story was posted here, on CNN.com, about a young girl who miraculously survived a severe box jellyfish sting. In many cases, these stings have proved to be fatal. However, this young girl has beaten the odds and aside from some scarring and memory loss, is on the road to recovery and thankful to be alive.

    The unusual and inexplicable twist occurred when grammatical expert, Brian, had posted the following comment at the end of the story: “i trully believe that god has a perpose for that little girl”. This singular comment set off a chain of events not yet seen by man. In approximately just three hours, the website has amassed over 270 comments and that count is still climbing at an alarming rate. These comments are fueled by the controversy as to whether or not God had a hand in either the miraculous recovery of the young victim or if there was a God in existence, would he let something like this happen.

    One reader commented: “So, if your God, yaweh, whatever, is so great and all.. why did christians usurp holidays from the pagans they murdered and converted?” This sparked even more controversy in to not only the existence of “God” but the historical relevance and questionable fact of early religion. Spelling Bee Champion and English Professor Chase Johnson had this to say: “screw u athisis she survived because of luck and if u hate god dont be a dick by bashung other peoples faith”

    It’s much too early to tell as to whether or not these readers will ever come to a conclusion to this question. What we do know is that as this battle rages on, life goes on in the rest of the world, just a little bit better and safer. Scientists theorize that this type of controversy can not only occupy and subdue people of lower intelligence, but it also raises the gene pool by 14.3% by keeping said subjects off of the street.

    More on this story as it unfolds in the coming days. Coming up: The Brett Michaels brain hemorrhage. Did God have a hand in this or was this a result of singing “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” just one too many times.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
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