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. BOB

    If you are going to use GODS' name in vane don't let everyone see it. It makes me sick to think theres so called cristians out there that use it in vane.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. darwin

    The chicken or the egg? Simple. The egg came first. It was laid by a bird that was "almost" a chicken! It's evolution folks. Believe it or not; it won't change the facts. It's how we got here!

    April 27, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Colin

    Why is it that the god-nuts who believe in miracles always; (i) ignore the down side of a set of facts (the excruciating pain this poor girl went through, the anguish of her parents as she hovered on death’s door and the permanent scaring she will carry for the rest of her life); (ii) focus solely on the upside (that she did not die); and (iii) then proclaim the quarantined upside a miracle. Using this lax standard, it is difficult to conceive of a set of facts that is not a “miracle” that proves the existence of the hokey sky-fairy theists call “god.”

    April 27, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ron

    This is truly an amazing story. Let's all just be grateful this little girl has survived and is OK!

    April 27, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Andrea

    Hey darwin, alot of Christians dont deny evolution, they only say the God is somehow behind all of it. Its not God vs Science, God created science.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jerry C

    I pray the girl gets well. Concerning faith in God vs anything else, I'd rather have HOPE for a purpose of this life and after, vs NO hope and NO purpose. Athiests hate believers because misery loves company and want believers to have NO hope like they do. God loves you, has a purpose for your life and wants none to perish but all to choose eternal life in Jesus Christ.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dan

    Keep your faith in your heart.......and out of my face!

    April 27, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. hb

    God never said that our stay in this world would be easy. People will suffer and die, that is the cause of sin. He also said he's with us every step of the way, through trials and tribulations. We just need to call to him and let him know we need him, that although we're horrible sinners we still love him and need his guidance. Believe me, you will know when God is in your life. He loves each and every one of us no matter what you think, we are all his children. He's waiting with arms open for you to come to him and find the right path to eternal life. Trust me, you have nothing to lose for this incredible offer. The best part, it's free. God bless you all.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Colin

    Hey Andrea, god no more created science than a disease creates its cure.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Your Lord

    This is god speaking I love you all and need money.
    That is all over and out.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Andrea

    Amen Jerry C!!

    April 27, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Cathy

    i'm loving how that jellyfish brought on a religious dispute.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dottie

    Correction! dottie #370. I made a mistake in address to Phil #326. My message was really for "Guest #327. I'm so sorry, Phil

    April 27, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. The Sitting on the fence uy

    Best wishes for the girl..

    And to the rest
    Should we not all be thankfull that the girl is alive and still breathing yet somehow even in these times where someone is almost killed all we can do is argue some higher power in all honesty the chances that a higher power did save her is unlikely why would "God" Let this person get attacked by this jellyfish only to let her survive when it could have been provented in the first place. But i dont dismiss god here either he could have very well saved this person preventing her from Death to spread a message that he will spare innocence. It all depends on the persons belleifs. Science is here to explain not to prove that god does not exist it just has not been proven yet can you blame a scientist to be sceptical of something he cannot measure. So there is no reason for the religious people in this thread to get so angry without reason.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
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