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. guest

    How about that Tiger Woods? huh? What a guy!

    April 27, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. You serious?

    Inward? We don't want rules? Please. Most aetheists prefer structure and order to chaos and mystical superfriends. I don't believe in your God. I believe in Mankind. I believe that laws, rules, and guidelines, more importantly, morality, are necessary for the good of mankind. Otherwise, we could never achieve anything of note. We could never improve our condition or rise above the muck. I'm not looking for an "out" so that I can lie, cheat, steal, commit adultery, and murder. To say that is just ridiculous. More murderers are religious than are not.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Allicia Torres

    God has a plan for her. Yes she is a miracle Bless her and her family abundantly. I will be praying for a speedy recovery.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Anna

    "Box jelly fish only grow to the size of your fingernail!???" YES, baby box jelly fish are that size but they can grow to be huge! This one engulfed the poor girl. You are entitled to your opinions...but not entitled to making up your own "facts".

    April 27, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. I can't believe you people

    Keep on topic #64 pat, #25 jared, #8 john teeb and as for #10 marc,God has been taken out of too much already.You guys are the minority so get a life (hopefully in Calif, come on earthquake). Such dumba**es.
    Hope the girl makes a full recovery.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Andrew

    Brian: GOD......IS.......PISSED!!!


    April 27, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. You serious?

    CNN HLN: That comment was pure Win. Ha.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Parker

    Wow! I am amazed at all the God-bashers out there! Especially over such an uplifting story. I certainly believe that there is one God and that he allows certain things to happen (i.e., Job). We simply just do not know what his plan is - whether that involves saving this girl or allowing others to die. Regardless, I am thankful (to God) that this girl survived this ordeal, and pray (to God) that her purpose be realized;-)

    "If you will not hear the truth, no one can tell you."

    April 27, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Derek

    I think this is very tragic

    April 27, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kristine

    Hey all you haters of "god-lovers", why does it always turn to a bashing of people who believe in God when someone posts something like, "Thank God" on a news story...give me break, let them beleive what they want, and just read the dang story. Arent you all about letting people do what they want? Well, that includes letting people bleieve in God.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Hawaiikaos

    I know this is horrbily off topic (like the little girl is going to read any of our comments anyway) but I couldn't resist.

    It would be awesome, absolutely awesome, if someone could produce a reality show, where 5 expert religious people competed with 5 expert scientists, to convert a group of contestants to either religion or atheism (the religious experts would work on atheists, and the scientists would work on religious people). The expert group that converts the most the fastest get to donate prize money to the charity of their own selection. Based on the comments here, it would be fascinating, not to mention a ratings winner!

    April 27, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bob

    Wow, she's really lucky to have lived with that many stings, but it will be a long road to recovery, I hope she does well. And for all the geniuses attributing her survival to God, what about all the people who are killed by jellyfish or just animals in general that God doesn't save? Somehow when there's a natural disaster or something where thousands of people die horrible deaths and a handful survive, it's proof of God's love and grace, even though those same people are the ones who tend to believe that the disaster was and act of God in the first place. Talk about cherry-picking the few good things and ignoring the mountain of bad just to justify your beliefs.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. will

    Ridiculous. One person makes a comment about something they believe – and you people can't shutup about God. It sounds like some of you are pretty threatened by any suggestion that there is a God – and couldn't just leave it alone. And now look at this!!! I'm writing about it myself!!! This is about the girl!!!! If someone wants to say it's about God saving the girl – have the respect to let them.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JellyFishSuck

    CNN HLN- AWESOME, hilarious as well as clever and relevant.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. AC

    @ Atheist & several others....I am a well educated Molecular biologist who happens to be a believer in GOD. I also am a believer of the theory of evolution and can understand where you all come from, since the evidence is easily proven and understood. Ater careful consideration of my childhood as a protestant I have to say that I am still a firm believer in God after all these years. I don't believe it is God's plan to work so called "miracles," or to determine who lives and who doesn't in these situations. Gods works are to plan the development of the human species and balance out nature in our world. I also believe in the idea of Heaven/Hell and that there is life after death nor should every word in the Bible be taken literally. As a scientist I just don't see the possibility that a coincidence could hav occurred naturally to allow our existence. I mean what is the possibility that nucleotides randomly were cretaed which then came together to create a specific sequence that encodes a protein that is within a cell that seemingly came from nowhere to eventual divide and develop into a human being....to me it doesn't seem a logical explanation. Perhaps one day though science can be used to prove/disapprove Gods existence...who knows...

    April 27, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
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