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. rivirivi

    All religious leaders of all organized religions and sects and other beliefs should come out and beg for forgiveness to the rest of the world for all the lies embedded in all the so called 'holy" books which instill hate, separatism, murders, wars, conquers including pedophilia. Jesus came to show us forgiveness, Mother Theresa came to show us compassion, etc etc, but humans are so stupid they keep on fighting about who has the best book about God, or which group of stupid humans God seems to love the most, or who has the best color of skin which pleases God the most. Stupid stupid separatistic simpleton humans.

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

    I have a feeling that if (again IF) the girl in the story was lesbian, these religious ppl praising the gods for her health would be saying it's some sort of punshment from god or somehting along those lines.

    I'm glad she's safe, but wow to have survived that is just amazing, nothing short of a random act of great luck, and maybe something to do with her genes or whatnot.

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

    "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."

    'saitine'? Maybe you mean 'Satan". Isn't your god all-powerful and all-seeing? Couldn't he (she, it, whatever) see this coming and stop it? Doesn't sound too all-powerful or all-seeing to me. Sounds pretty weak actually. Don't take this as an insult to your god. I can't possibly insult something that doesn't exist.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jerome Summers

    I dont know if the people down under use this method: I am from the Texas gulf coast an swam alot thers when I was a teenager in the 50's we always broght a bottle of household ammnoia with us to apply to jellyfish an man of war jelly fish stings( man of war stings could kill ) on one occasion I was stung by a man of war on my arm's an legs very extensivly I applyed the ammonia most of the stinging went away wright away an in a couple of days most of the swelling was gown.My wife is allergenic to bee stings an I applied ammonia to them an she did not have a reaction to them. The ammonia is a base an the bee stings are acid.Dont know why but it worked for me.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Brennan Clark

    you guys all need to go to church and actually learn what GOD can do and change in your life

    April 27, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Leeman

    Oh my goodness! Some of you people are crazy. You take a simple story of a little girl surviving a jellyfish and turn it into a war of words. This is how crazy the world is now...scary!

    btw..I think the $40K grant should go to investagating the little girl and how she survived the jellyfish vemon.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. John Smith

    matt, and how many christians do you know that at one point or another didnt hate someone because of x or y. the idea of religion and followings its laws is rather flawed.

    it is however, very rare and rather interesting to find such person here and there.. you can bug them all you want and if they hate you they go to hell.. its like a win win.. well.. for those who do try to follow it is a lose lose , but its just a matter of perspective

    April 27, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. rivirivi

    And furthermore, PLEASE PEOPLE why would you believe in that tale called the Rupture? AS IF God would give this beautiful self-sustaining miracle of a planet to a stupid group of bad acting humans, that would be a prize not punishment. Would you people please use your brains? God made them you know, your brains for thinking.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. rivirivi

    Hey, God created Ammonia which stops the venom of Jelly fish. The jelly fish are objecting to it.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. rivirivi

    God invented science too. Ha!

    April 27, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Inconsistent

    Freethought, the acidity of your lambaste and your desire to have your opinion rule as the prevailing thought negates your choice of moniker. A true "openness" or "free thought" society doesn't belittle those who hold to the opposite opinion. You are destroying the fundamentals of your own argument. What bothers me here is "atheism" is being repackaged as another "intolerant religion". If that is truly what you want it to be, then you have not basis of pointing to the deists and branding them as "intolerant".

    April 27, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Freethought

    "No one truly understands God completly it's not possible. He is all powerful. Remember Mankind brought sin into this world. That is why bad things happen. We need to be blaming ourselves for evil not God."

    Yeah, and who created us in his (her, its, whatever's) own image? Why didn't he make us better? Why'd he make us sinners, knowing (since he can see everything) we'd sin and throw ourselves into perpetual misery?

    Way too many flaws in this fairy tale. The Greeeks did a better job.

    Score, match, and game.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Swordfish

    Arguments about the reality of God are trivial and a total waste time. Presumptions get in the way of having a meaning dialogue.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Crazy @ stake

    I truley hope that little girl can be thankful that she didnt get stung

    April 27, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Pat

    Amazed at Atheists. Not one of them smart enough to think they are not capable of knowing all things. If it can't be explained to them, then it is not cannot be so. Get over yourself. You are a limited being.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
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