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. tt

    Now this girl is alive, some say God saved her. If she was dead, the same people would say God takes her to a better place. Bottom line: You can't argue with these people. They win either way.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. John Smith

    so if the girl is not christian or w.e.. lets say she is a sikh - sikhism - , if you pray for her to get better, wouldnt her god not get the message? or would ur god tweet her god?? i dont get it.. do explain

    April 27, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. rivirivi

    To Guest, if you believe that then why are Islamists killing with serrated knives, machetes, nail-bombing and hating other humans Allah made also? The Bible is a bad translation of 72 older books and the Kuram is a bad copy of the Bible, followed by the Book of Mormons. At least the Baghabad Guita has more years,

    April 27, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. sticky

    I love the idea of an impotent jellyfish! Or maybe it was partially potent, had a vitamin deficiency or was having a bad day.... The girl was lucky to have bumped into a scrub.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. rivirivi

    And to the one who can prove and see everything before you believe in it. Can you see the color of your thoughts- while on your head?

    April 27, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Pat

    Proof that God exists will be given to you personally after your final breath. No exceptions – myself included. Please make it a pleasant experience for everyone.

    If you're new to this concept – Goto biblegateway.com and look these up:
    1)Romans 3:23
    2)Romans 6:23
    3)John 3:16
    4)Romans 10:9-13

    Don't say I didn't tell you!

    April 27, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. oli

    you guys are retarted. its an article about a girl who was badass enough to live through getting wrapped up by a box jelly. it has nothing to do with god or no god. just a badass

    April 27, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. nathan

    u people stop hating GOD. he is the creater of all things and saitine is the destroyer! saitine hurt this girl and GOD spared her innocent life.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Corinne

    Praying that she makes a full recovery.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. John Smith

    Horus, an ancient Egyptian Sun God, is introduced as having a number of attributes similar to that of many of the religious deities which came after him, including but not limited to Attis, Krishna, Dionysus, Mithra and Jesus Christ; these attributes include a virgin birth on December 25, twelve disciples, burial for three days, resurrection, and the performing of miracles - from the Zeitgeist Movie .. a must watch for those out there looking for a good chirstian bashing, 9 11 conspiracy and other stuff

    April 27, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Freethought

    "It seems impossible for such a creature to come about through chance (evolution)."

    Once again, someone hasn't performed any background studies before commenting. Scientist were able to re-create the earth's environment during the primordial stage. During this experiment, amino acids – the building blocks of life – formed naturally. This was the beginning of all life on our planet, and it was re-created in a lab. If that is something that only god can do, then to see god, we only need to look in the mirror.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Colin

    Athiests don't "hate" god any more than they "love" Santa clause. We simply do not believe in god.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Matt


    No real follower of Christianity would say to you or want you to burn in hell. A true follower would love you no matter what because that is the key message of Jesus and obviously the religion. Its too bad there are people out there who call themselves Christians but have hate for others.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Impressionable Children

    That'll teach her from reenacting the opening scene from Ponyo.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Colin

    Thanks Matt. To be honest, they do not offend me. Given my beliefs, you will understand that I consider it a pretty inoffensive threat.

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