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. juan bobo

    Note to self: No dive trips to Australia!

    April 27, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Nick

    Well this interesting for those who believe in God it is true what the atheist say "why would God allow this?" However I have a counter statement why does society continue on? If you are atheist you don't believe in God correct? Then what is the fear of death if there is nothing there to be afraid of? Could it be that deep down in your heart, despite every denial you have, a glimer of fear overcomes you, when in the presence of death? Truly humans our wonderous creatures even in denial they show there anger and hate for something they say does not exist, hmmm or maybe you are confused as to what is true be it science or divinty all things that live physically die.... What happens next is up to you.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Laurie Pettay

    honestly I thought the article was about the amazing survival of this little girl not whether you crazy people believe in God or not. Really???

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

    I think God is like a kid with an ant farm; able to see everything, but when it comes down to it the only way to intervene is to shake the world violently, like an etch a sketch... which doesn't end well.

    I'm just happy the little girl lived, but I think she would be sad to see what this article has created.

    I'm begging you people to stop your bickering and go and do something positive, and stop spreading your short-sighted anger.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. doctor

    @ Christians – do you really think these comments are the way to "prove" your point? Do you think you'll suddenly change their minds? If God is God, He doesn't need you to defend Him. When you try, its just a bad testimony of how Christians should behave.

    @ Athiests – do you really think these comments are the way to "prove" your point? Do you think you'll suddenly change their minds? If there is no god, then your comments would only strengthen their hold on their beliefs... basically having the opposite effect of what you're intending.

    I'm just amazed the girl survived. I'm happy for her and her family.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Your Lord

    This is god I need money so fill those collection baskets.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jesse

    jesus saved her

    April 27, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. hb

    The cause of sin is hurt, death and everything that goes along with it. No one has any excuse for this, it's just part of what we have to live with until to the second coming. Many things are not explained, maybe the reason for that is we wouldn't comprehend it or we're to ignorant to see the big picture. We just need to live with faith each day and pray for everyone and hope that each choice we make, is a choice we wouldn't be afraid to let our father know. When I say father I mean God our father. By the way, God doesn't hate anyone, he loved us so much he died for our sins. The ones we've committed, are and will committ. He never said our time in this world would be easy, but with patience, faith, love and determination. We will soon be out of this temporary land onto our promised land.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Chris Bennett

    Regarding chickens/eggs, from Wikipedia:

    Evolution states that species change over time via mutation and selection. Since DNA can be modified only before birth, a mutation must have taken place at conception or within an egg such that an animal similar to a chicken, but not a chicken, laid the first chicken egg.[7][8] In this light, both the egg and the chicken evolved simultaneously from birds who weren't chickens and didn't lay chicken eggs but gradually became more and more like chickens over time.

    However, a mutation in one individual is not normally considered a new species. A speciation event involves the separation of one population from its parent population, so that interbreeding ceases; this is the process whereby domesticated animals are genetically separated from their wild forebears. The whole separated group can then be recognized as a new species.

    The modern chicken was believed to have descended from another closely related species of birds, the red junglefowl, but recently discovered genetic evidence suggests that the modern domestic chicken is a hybrid descendant of both the red junglefowl and the grey junglefowl.[9] Assuming the evidence bears out, a hybrid is a compelling scenario that the chicken egg, based on the second definition, came before the chicken.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Seriously?

    Freaking idiots! Get over yourselves and get a freaking life! I hate when people feel the need to argue every freaking point! Do something better with your life than belittling a GOD that DOES exist and didn't make this happen to the little girl, but sheesh get over it and actually know what you're talking about before you start spewing your crap talk and bad mouthing a person that made a simple, loving comment... Gosh, fight a battle that actually matters! Nerds!

    April 27, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Heyyallitsme

    Wow!! Can you folks get yer gandies in a binder! Sit down, take a deep breath, if you want to praise God, Yay! if you want to praise Allah (sp?), your choice. If you want to look up at the stars and say wow! Go right ahead, but think of her family, think of this child, and, yes, think of (dare I say it) the miracle. Please do not make this post a religious debate, just take the story at face value, to discuss at the watercooler, at the dinner table, to hug your kids with. Relax, enjoy each day we have, because we do not know when we will be hit by a car, struck by lightning, heart attack, or stung by a jellyfish.

    Okay, I will now get off my soapbox, and just use it to do the laundry. Thank you for letting me express myself.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jesse

    i dont like nuber 8 comment

    April 27, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. SMILES4U


    April 27, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Nick

    Hmmm it was interesting on how that girl survived. I hope she has a life full of happiness after that. I should take back that commit earlier, that was childish of me.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Your Lord

    This is god speaking.
    Look carefully when you open your bags of cheetohs
    I sent an image of Mary's face onto a large cheetoh.
    Don't you ever doubt my existence.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
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