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. Chris Bennett

    You atheists really need to take time to understand and get to know the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Let him wrap his appendages around you and envelop you with his noodliness. He won't do so unless you ask... or at least not if you're awake.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Inconsistent

    I'll take it as a compliment "Please Learn to Spell Properly". 🙂

    April 27, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Colin

    It is ironic how many Christians have assured me (with a glint of satisfied pleasure in their eye) that I will burn in hell because I am an atheist, when I would not so much as wish a bad sunburn on them, simply because they hold a different religious belief to me.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. You serious?

    RC: The Christians are the nice ones about non-believers, right? Ever hear of the Crusades? or, Westboro Church, perhaps?

    Samson: So, because we haven't created (designed from scratch and made from clay) a living being, we are to believe that god must exist? Microprocessors cannot be formed by chance because the components do not naturally exist. It is completely synthetic. It cannot be created from chemicals and compounds naturally. Life can.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jackson

    Science is everything. God is for weak minded people.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Colin

    @Samson Dah 480. Evolution is not chance. I wish theists would stop (honestly or otherwise) making this false statement. No evolutionary biologists believes "it all happened by chance".

    Second, all you have done is punt kick. What created god. He was just created by chance, right?

    April 27, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jerry C

    #413 Colin

    You assume believers only focus on the positive sides of an event, yet you seem to focus on the "negative" ones! Pain & suffering is a part of life; whether by the free will of others or by an act of nature (a jellyfish being a jellyfish). There are many who have debilitating diseases who have the same choices you do when they wake up every single day: either live life to the fullest not taking it for granted, or wallow in your own self-pity. Pain & suffering is only temporary; however, your existence does not have to be. I will pray that you choose life. God bless.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Inconsistent

    Oh BTW my comment wasn't a challenge to see which of you could be meaner about the fact that your group is the nicest...

    April 27, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. rivirivi

    To you Serious? Are you serious? EVERYTHING exists WITHIN the limitlessness of God unless you think that God is like a chair where you see the beginning and the end. THEREFORE YOU and I and everybody and everything else happens and exists WITHIN the limitlessness or God including the stinging box jellyfish, including the dirt between your toes, including the living things inside the dirt between your toes. You are stuck on what the book the bible says. Again, the bible was made by humans as a translation of other 73 actually 75 older books. and Jesus never said I AM GOD THE FATHER – HE DID SAY I AM ONE WITH THE FATHER AND ALSO HE SAID WE ARE ONE WITH THE FATHER. Now, you do believe that God THE FATHER IS LIMITLESS right? where guess where are you? NOT OUTSIDE that is for sure. And with respect to all the old people and old little gods including your second god satan who you give so much power (happens in your mind only), they of course are NOTHING.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Freethought

    "The smartest people on planet earth have not been able to PROVE the origin of life and the earth and all its wonder."

    Actually, they have. In great detail, no less. There are volumes and volumes of studies, bounded text, and vidoes on the matter. The only thing unproven (and will always remain so) is the existence of any god of any sort.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Inconsistent

    I think nearly 500 comments is enough for this story about a girl and a jellyfish, why don't you guys go over to the "Noah's Ark Found on Mt. Ararat" story and carry on from there. I'm sure that will be a knock-down, drag-out.


    April 27, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jane

    I think you all need to be quiet about all this "God stinks" crud. People have their own opinions and I think we should be respected for what we believe in. Lets all just be pretty thankful that this girl is alive and doing well. Thank you very much!

    April 27, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Colin

    #489 Jerr C

    Actually, my point is that the totality of facts need to be considered. This is what makes the miracle disappear in a puff of common sense. Thank you for praying for me. I will think for both of us.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Freethought

    "videos" not "vidoes" – sorry

    April 27, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
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