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)

    nonsense,no miracle. i could just as easily ask you why God let it happen to the kid in the first place.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bob

    I have concvinced myself that God is real because it amkes me feel better. The truth? Who cares about that, I just want to feel good!

    April 27, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Shelby

    I wish the best for the girl

    And to everyone who is arguing about this whole god thing, this just prroves how heatless all of you are. To be able to let one small comment distract you from this poor little girl and then have the NERVE to POST it all over her page!! Brian is not the person who is in the wrong here, not saying he is right either, but for you people to post something OTHER than best wishes for the girl are so wrong and heartless to let something so small distract you from what has happened.... that is almost sadder than the story itself

    April 27, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jim

    I wish young Rachell a full and speedy recovery. What a horrific experience.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. You serious?

    Andrea: do you thank God when all the Bad things happen to you? They're simply him testing your faith, remember. So, you better be sure to thank him for all of it, and not just the good. Thinking he only deserves to be thanked when good things happenis prideful... and we know that pride is a sin, right?

    April 27, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bob

    If God wanted the girl to survive, why did he make her suffer so much by allowing her to get stung in the first place? Why couldn't he have just used his infinite power to steer the jellyfish away from her so she didn't have to get stung? LOL @ religious people!

    April 27, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jerry C

    God may or may have not been a part of this. Regardless of your own idea as to the truth of the matter, God gave mankind freewill. So if the girl decided to swim where there may be jellyfish, that is her choice. The jellyfish is not a human so it does what jellyfish do. God; however, may decide to intervene and help the girl, or God may decide not to. Either way, all things God does is perfect and lead to good, for those that love Him. All you athiest, God-bashing, foul-mouthed, evolutionary fairy-tale believers in non-sense should follow your own logic (or lack thereof) and stop responding to a supposed non-existent diety and keep your stupid comments to yourself. Everyone else can pray that the girl has a speedy recovery and will regain 100% of her health. God bless.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bob

    ROFL, the religious hypocrite tells atheists to shut up while he does the same thing they are doing.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. You serious?

    wait... the people who don;t believe in the tale of a man who got killed, woke up in his tomb, and ascending into a heaven in the clouds arethe ones who believe in a 'Fairy-tale?'

    Wow. Just. Wow.

    There are flaws in your statements aside form this.. but... wow. Ignorance and blind faith is apparently bliss.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bob

    You know, I have no evidence whatsoever that God exists, but I'm going to believe in him anyway because it makes me feel good! I just know he's there, I mean I just told myself that he's there enough that I believe it now and anyone who wants real evidence is just testing my faith!

    April 27, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Whisky Tango Foxtrot

    I think I can see Jesus' face in the jellyflish. Or is it Mary?

    April 27, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Michelle

    For crying out loud people!! How about a little tolerance??? WHY is everyone so angry and indignant these days???? Everyone is entitled to their beliefs and to not be bashed about them. I am so sick of the bashing in this country. Someone wants to believe it is a miracle, that is their choice! If you choose to say it is merely a lucky break, so be it. Get over youselves! Enough with the haughty taughty, you are stupid, God is stupid and I am right... TOLERANCE! LIVE AND LET LIVE! You'll probably all live longer with that kind of attitude than with the venmous ridicule you currently embrace. I'll bet you all have high blood pressue and frown lines from the scowling sarcasm you emit. TOLERANCE. Were you personally harmed by someone's belief in divine intervention??? I don't think it was a miracle but couldn't care less and am certainly not offended that someone else does!!!!!!!!

    April 27, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. LCN

    I really can't get over how stupid it is to claim that this is evidence of God.

    So when people die in horrible accidents, that's just bad luck. But when they happen to live it's a miracle?

    Do you guys really not see how primitively superstitious that is?

    April 27, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. @MarkGeeRadio

    When did David Arquette quit acting and become a biologist?

    April 27, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Your Lord

    This is god, I'm going to get that mean ole devil for sending those jellyfish to sting that little girl.
    The devil is a meaney.I am god and I love you as long as you give my churches money.

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