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. Me

    For ALL you GOD haters.......just maybe His purpose was to expose so many unbelievers like you. So why can't your science explain it.? Because your finite minds can not comprehend the mysteries of life does not mean GOD does not exist.....it only means you are incapable of acknowledging the creator of all things....including you.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Andrea

    Hey colin, your just a person who wont live to be over 100 years old, so I dont think that you have the right to say what God created or didnt create. And Jerry is right, misery loves company.. that is obviously your only purpose in trying to spread atheism... something that has no hope or purpose.

    Even with all of evolution.. there was still a very first substance that had to come from somewhere.. you say a big bang?? a big bang of what??? Where did that matter come from???? If you dont believe in God, then thats your business, And what you said is actually funny because you said a disease doesnt create a cure... ever heard of a vaccine?

    April 27, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Anti-Religion

    Organized religions prey on the weak-minded sheeple of earth. From the southern baptists preachers coaxing the sheeple out of their hard earned money to get into heaven to the islamic terrorists willing to blow up themselves for 40 virgins in paradise, you are all so easily manipulated by your "faith". From the Spanish inquisition burning brilliant scientists at the stake to the Middle Eastern conflict of today, organized religion is the plague of mankind. Turning otherwise normally intelligent people into blind followers who ignore facts and science. For those of you who believe your religion is the "one true religion", how can all the other religions be wrong? For those of you who believe the bible is the spoken word of god, why was it written by so many different people so many decades after all of these so-called events happened? For those of you who believe you should fast at certain times of the year, do you really believe that the supreme being of everything really cares what you eat and when you eat it? Organized religion is filled with fairy tales and we would all be better off growing up and looking at things for what they really mean. I believe in a supreme being, but this being does not belong to any of our man made religions filled with self serving practices, childish fantasies, and out right brutal murder.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Marion

    God is the Omega and the Alpha – always was and always will be. Not everyone wants to believe. She is alive and that is what the story is about. Remember it rains on the just and unjust. When an earthquake hits it kills believers and non believers all the same. WE are all in this together my sisters and brothers. BUT: Remember – no such thing as an anthiest in a fox hole.


    April 27, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Patrick

    The proof that God exists is that the Bible says He exists. Since the Bible was written by God it must be true. Therefore God exists. QED

    That's what it all boils down to, right?

    This also works for the Quran.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Steven

    Wow i have got stung by a jelly fish before but the damage that this one has did to her seems like alot compared to my sting...MIRACLE!!

    April 27, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Patrick


    What is an antheist?

    April 27, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. SMH

    To all of you who denounce God: who will you call on when that great & terrible day comes (and it WILL). May this very merciful & long-suffering God have mercy on ALL of you.

    Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they are doing. And to those who will knock, and mock me: NO weapon formed against me will prosper....

    God have mercy on us all....

    April 27, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Your Lord

    Anti-Religion, you're making me angry.I'm going to send a jellyfish after you.
    You can show me you're sorry for what you said by filling the collection basket.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. You serious?

    Andrea: On the contrary. I was in catholic school for all but two of my pre-college years. I studied the bible. I even have a copy of it at home. Right next to books on the Egyptian Pantheon, Norse Pantheon, and Greek Pantheon.

    I know your book. I just have an objective view, unlike you. In all the trials and tribulations of most of those in the bible, it is God testing them. Indeed, that god would take such interest in you to test you, you should be thankful to him. If you believe that he does no bad things to his faithful, I dare you to read on. Remember the story of a son about to be sacrificed by god's will. How traumatized do you think that poor child was? These days, you would all be saying it was the devil's work. It was not. It was a test of faith. And for those tests, you are supposed to be thankful. I simply told you this. And, yet, you tell me that I know little about your religion.


    April 27, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Inconsistent

    Dear Atheists and Christians, you may respectively thank "goodness "(though I'm not sure what that substantively is, nor why I should thank it as if it were a person) or thank "God", but don't use your unbelief or belief in God to wound each other. After all, Christians Jesus didn't speak this way to those who do not believe...and neither should you. Atheists, your ideas that "Religion only hurts people" and "Religion constrains free thought" is really a tenuous argument when you belittle Deists for not believing in God. It runs counter to your presupposition. Now, interestingly...I wonder which of you two groups has the power to love the other back without having to change him or her? Seems like both groups are failing in that respect.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Patrick


    Misery loves company. That's why bible-addicts are always pushing on other people.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Please Learn to Spell Properly

    I don't care what your opinions are, just please convey your opinions with CORRECT SPELLING... There is NO excuse, unless you're foreign and English is not your first language, but still that's pushing it. I'm talking at you BOB, #437

    April 27, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. You serious?

    SMH: Are you referring to the 2nd coming? The massive devastation? If your end of days comes to pass (which even science says one will come eventually), I will rely on myself and my own actions, not prayer.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Inconsistent

    correction "belittle Deists for BELIEVING in God"

    April 27, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
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