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. Louis

    WHAT about the jelly-fish....does noone care????? Maybe the girl attacked the jelly-fish....hmmm???

    April 27, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. LCN


    If you're going to post stupid theories in a public forum, expect them to be criticized.

    Take your touch-feely BS back to the commune, this is the internet.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Man

    I never thought I'd see the day when one guy says "God had a plan for her"...and such a firestorm of hate erupted. I'm not sure if there is a God. But what have we become as humans??? Where is tthe compassion from both believer and athiest. It seems like this world is ripe for it's next nasty chapter in human history.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. rob

    I love ready posts from people to pretend they understand God. No one truly understands God completly it's not possible. He is all powerful. Remember Mankind brought sin into this world. That is why bad things happen. We need to be blaming ourselves for evil not God.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mar

    I got stung by a man of war when I was five and it was big but not as big as that . I enededup in the hospital and was not able to walk for close to a week.
    Thank God she made it!

    April 27, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bob

    The real difference betweem religous and non-religous people to me is...

    I've never had an athiest show up at my door on Saturday to try to convert me.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Michelle

    To MAN: YES! Another rational human like myself, displaying a little bit of tolerance. Perhaps there is hope for humanity yet! Thank you! I have yet to see out of 409 comments, someone with a little serenity and peace!

    April 27, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. soulsabr

    Sure are a lot of trolls on this thread.

    On a more relevant note : I pray for this girl's quick and total recovery.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. um

    americans and discussions about god.. yawn.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Louis

    O.K., Folks. READ THIS !!!

    This whole thing was a test concocted to ascertain bias in a "man vs nature" scenario.

    And you all FAILED, because NOONE defended the jelly-fish.

    Poor jelly-fish, "speared" by mankind.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John Smith

    To say "thank god this child is safe" is just plain silly.
    To say "god doesnt exist" is just as silly.

    take things such as time travel, aliens from uranus, light speed travel, etc etc... just because they have not been scientifically proven, or because the human mind is unable to comprehend them, doesnt make them any less real than lets say the internet 300 years ago.

    "god" falls in the same category. to disprove its existence, one would need to travel to its house.. and we know its not heaven cause lots of planes fly by and no one has seen anything. By that same reasoning, just because we cannot comprehend nor imagine the place where such being could possibly exist, is doesnt make it any less real.

    so.. um... to the "jeebus and all other religions" praying folks.. lol...
    and ..um..to the "my science" is perfect and if i cant see it, it doesnt exit... lol too...

    April 27, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Cecilia

    So happy to hear this litlle girl survived and hope she gets better, and just a comment for those people who wonder why bad things happen if there if a God, God intended the best for all of us, but Adam and eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, so we all inherited their sin, so we have free will to decide if we want to follow Him or who ever, and only one perfect person could put us right with God again, so He Sent his son who live in heaven to come to earth to died for us and pay the ransom for all humanity so we can enjoy a perfect world again soon, His son is comming back soon (Jesus) and those who belive in him before armagadon.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Educated, successful & still believe in Jesus!

    Wow. God indeed is real and allowed her life to be spared. Who can discern the mind and total will of God? We see in part and therefore know only in part. We do not see the full picture and the purpose and reason for her life and this event will be revealed in God's own time. His name alone be praised...So many comments and negative, foul language when it comes to speaking about God. Evidence enough that the Gospel of Christ seems like "foolishness" to non believers as it says in 1 Corinthians 1:23. God does not need to "prove" Himself..how do I know He is real? I believe...and can feel Him. The same way that I know pain is real, cannot see it, but sure can feel it...Though you don't believe, I am praying for you. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. God loves you!

    April 27, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Andrea

    Hey "Are you serious" I dont need you telling me anything about God, since you dont have a reltationship with him, you probably arent the best person to comment on Him. Bad things happen because we live in an imperfect world full of sin and freewill and we are subject to the free will of other people. And I cry to God when bad things happen to me, I know that he is not to blame for those things, and I have had my share since I grew up being abused until I was 16 and got the courage to leave. God was by my side and no one could ever tell me different. God did not force my dad to beat me... so I cant exactly blame him for that, just like God did not force the jellyfish to attack the little girl, but she did survive and I do thank HIM for that. If you dont, well I will certainly pray for you and I believe that God still loves you whether you love him or believe in him or not. Some things exist despist your approval or disapproval. That may shock you, but its true. You may not see God in the world, but I do. What does it matter to you??? What are you accomplishing by spreading atheism?? What a silly thing. If you dont believe then you dont believe, I hope that that changes but you certainly have no purpose in talking down to people who do. And you dont have right to talk about something that you dont really know that much about.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
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