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. jw

    You Serious - I pray that you come into the saving Grace of Jesus Christ.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. You serious?

    Will: one of us.

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

    Hail Monkey Insinuates that "B) Finding a scientific explanation as to why she didn't die and possibly an anti-venom from research" is better than wasting time "praying for her".

    Both are noble and kind-hearted behaviors.

    As soon as science develops the anti-venom, science will be used to derive a more potent weaponized toxin.
    Or, just as easily, religion will hurt her...

    Religion and Science are BOTH tools in the hands of corrupt and selfish human beings. Perhaps that's why Jesus' teachings were against the religious leaders of his day...and they killed him. Love is the only thing that destorys humanity's selfishness, and allows us to use all of our tools well. Love is what Jesus taught...and it is anti-selfishness, not anti-science.

    Kumbaya anyone?

    April 27, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. guest

    That's truly a miracle. God's is working through normal, reasonable and humble ways to show how powerful He is.

    God does not need Hollywood effects. Neither that little girl.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Inwardfire

    To you also that said Jesus never said he was God, you are 100% wrong. Jesus said I and the father am one, again I am not going to educate you it's in the Bible but your choice is not to believe even if it was put in front of you to read for your self. You have made your choice. It's like the Seperation of Church and State it's not in the Constitution but it was said enough times that people just believe it. The argument was only that there would not be a Governement Run Church Denomination/Religion it "was" a free nation and the Governement would not come up to anyone and say you can't worship God that way. Note: it was not a bunch of different Gods in the beginning of our Nation it was only the way they worshipped God. Doctrine was not decided by the Government. This is also Truth still found in the Library, There is a really good Video/not sure if it was made into Cd form called
    "Our Godly Heritage" if your curious out there and don't have a clue go check it out at the Library. For the rest of you, Man if you hate this country so much and don't like the fact that was still have freedom of speech go to some other country. I don't here much about anyone trying to leave America unless you are the God Haters and then you still come back to Blow up our Towers, Pentegon, Oklahoma city and it's children. You don't care about any of those who have lost their lives, their families and you certainly don't pray for them, I still do!!!! That's what Hope is and if you have no hope and your life if based on this life only and no hope of Eternity then you are a miserable lost soul. I pity you.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sara

    To those who do not believe in God:
    How is it that you who know little can cancel God for He is all knowing, all seeing, everlasting, infinite God who allows you a little dust bit of knowledge continuing to debate whether is not God is true. What's the matter with you?
    God bless on the complete healing of the girl!!

    April 27, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bob

    Ha, the religious nuts just want to be left alone to believe what they want and are upset when someone else tries to tell them they're wrong. Talk about hypocrisy, maybe they should take their own advice and quit pushing their beliefs on everyone else in this country before they get so mad themselves!

    April 27, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. LOU

    CNN HLN: WELL SAID!!! BRAVO!!!!! I would like to only add this.

    I am thankful, that the little girl is making it through. She is truly "lucky", "blessed", or "has a strong enough constitution", to have a second chance at life. Life that I am sure her parents are glad to have back when so many others would probably not have survived. My "best wishes", "thoughts", "and prayers" go out to them.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Robert K

    I dig AC's comment...

    April 27, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. FCB

    Okay so maybe God didn't exist, maybe the universe was created through a "big bang" and then the Earth appeared and the planets popped up and rotated in perfect form and the sun arrived and heated the earth perfectly, and then the human body miraculously formed itself and then evolved over the years into the most perfect working machine present on this universe. The blood just "knows" how to pump itself and all the organs work perfectly in unison, which is a complete coincidence...and the animal kingdom balances itself out also coincidentally..

    Is that what you athiests are trying to say? When you can explain how everything in this universe works perfectly..THEN you obviously know more than the CREATOR and then your words might be a little credible

    April 27, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. You serious?

    Jw: Give it a rest. While I appreciate the (hopefully) sincere statement behind it, it is not to be.

    I was raised Catholic. I was an altar boy. No, nothing terrible happened to me. The priest at my church was a kind and very good old man to the day he died. I simply grew up, expanded my horizons, and searched for answers. When I found the things I did I realized that every religion in the history of society, be it monotheistic or polytheistic turns into a method of control. For example: some religions have a prohibition against eating Pork. Di you know why? because pork not cooked properly killed people in droves. So, they made a standing religious decree that the flesh of pigs should not be consumed. It saved lives. Go forth and multiply? Spreading of the gene pool and prevents genetic stagnation. It also increased the flock of worshipers. No coveting thy neighbor's wife? Promots harmony among the flock.

    After a while, I realized a great hypocrisy in nigh all religions. And great contradictions. And, well, then there is lack of proof.

    Your God is just as feasible as the Norse Pantheon, the Egyptian, the Greek, Roman, or Allah. All have various creation myths.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Will

    Did anyone catch the documentary on either the Discovery Channel or Nat Geo on the Box Jellyfish? A couple of divers were unsuspectingly stung by an adolescent Box. After the initial pain of the sting, the overall debilitating pain took a while to set in. Then, not only were there morbidly bad body aches, but the divers also endured massive abdominal pain and fever. It's mind blowing how nature works...especially in this manner. In some strange way, I am comforted knowing that we are still mere mortals to the power of nature...even with the power of our technology and resourcefulness.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. tsz70

    God does not disappoint. Mankind disappoints. The proof lies right here. There are very few posts on this site that boast intellectual discourse.

    Peace to you all – cause I sure ain't feeling it right now. Over and out.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Joe

    Notice that all the atheists posting here are always thinking about, and discussing God. If He does not exist, or is not important in your life, why are you always talking about Him?
    Why don't you just ignore Him? So, you think you are going to escape? God has his tentacles wrapped around every one of you, more securely than any jellyfish, and will squeeze you tighter and tighter in His embrace. Don't think you can wiggle out of this and escape. He will enter more and more into your concsciousness, and you have proved it by all your comments on this site.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. You serious?

    Sara: I bring you, Epicurus:
    “Is 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?”

    While it may be ancient, the logic still stands.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
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