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. Brennan Clark

    yeah she better be thankful

    April 27, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Claude Csrter

    This is one lucky girl to be alive I feel that the good Lord had mercy on her, otherwise she might have been dead.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. for real!

    Why does everything have to turn into a religious bashing! If people want to thank God and they believed God is the reason she is alive then let them. The girl survived it is a miracle ever think that God let the jelly fish attach to her and let her live to show how much of a miracle it was. Thank God for everything!

    April 27, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Freethought

    You've got me all wrong bro. I think you should be free to believe whatever you want. You shouldn't, however, be free to push your belief system on others. That is what I'm countering. If you want to believe in the Christian god, so beit. I havne't spoken against so many here who have said positive things – even when tying them to Christianity. I've simply countered those who try to make a joke out of atheism as if it were a boatload of misleading crap from Satan. Attack my way of life, and I'll return fire. That's what I have been doing.

    By the way, I haven't branded anyone as anything. If you can show me one of my posts that does that, please do. Otherwise, consider yourself among the "name-callers".

    April 27, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kitty

    Some of you wish to mock & disrespect God, and are trying to portray him as evil. My question to all of you God Mockers and Disbelievers is, if you are blaming God, then doesn't that actually mean you believe in him? Another thing, everytime something bad happens in the world or unfortunately to someone else, you all believe its got to be God, but all of you have clearly,cleaarrrrly forgotten, that where there is God on one side, there is also the DEVIL. He is the evil one, who encourages hatred, death and destruction, and causes bad things to happen.It surely was not the Devil who helped this girl survive.God is the loving, caring and merciful God who gave this little girl the strength and will to survive and continue to be a blessing in this world. God works in mysterious ways and he is great,and all great things are possible through him. Stop forgetting that just like our God that does good, there is a Devil who does evil. Stop blaming God.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. shelbie

    Seriously, you people need to grow up!
    If you dont believe in god, than good for you.
    but dont try to insult us and try to start drama with us who do believe in him!!

    April 27, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. json

    Here's my question: If the little girl had died, what would all the "God is Good!" miracle-hillbillies be saying? She deserved to die? It was God's Plan? Her parents were unclean and her horrific death by a creature of the deep was God's wrath directed at an innocent to punish them?

    You have to admit, ALL religions have that unbeatable publicity machine.

    If she dies, it's, "Well, it's a tragedy, but He works in mysterious ways and we shouldn't question the ways of the Great I Am."

    If she lives, it's a "MIRACLE!!!!!!"

    April 27, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Freethought

    "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."

    Of course we are limited. That goes without saying. However, we are always open to learning. In many cases, religion (especially the Christian and Muslim religions) tries to halt discovery. To see that, just take a look at what extremes the Taliban are going to in order to stop girls from going to school and boys from learning anything but the Quran.

    I try to learn something new everyday. I make mistakes everyday. I don't know one atheist who would say different.

    Pat, maybe you might want to consider getting over yourself.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Chris

    If God saved this little girl, then did he deliberately kill Steve Irwin?

    If this little girl grows up to be the next Stalin or Hitler, will you miracle-seekers still say it was God's plan, or will you then blame the Devil for this "miracle"? How about we just call the little girl fortunate and stop blaming/attributing every coincidence to/on God?

    April 27, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Freethought

    Kitty, I don't blame god. Just wanted you to know.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. json

    All I am saying, is that it's ridiculous to give God all the glory for all the wonderful things, like this brave little girl's incredible survival, without holding him responsible for all the horrific tragedies that have occurred every single day since the beginning of time.

    I was raised devoutly Pentecostal and decided that I could not continue to believe in my heart that there is a loving, protecting God who wants his children to grow.

    I do my best to pattern my life after Jesus Christ who, unlike virtually every institutionalized Christian religion on Earth, professed unconditional love, compassion, forgiveness and acceptance of his fellow man.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Craig

    While it is possible that the girl was special, isn't it also, perhaps more possible, that this particular box jellyfish was 'defective' or otherwise not quite so poisonous as usual? Let's say, "toxin-deficient" perhaps?

    April 27, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ty

    I hate to carry on the dispute, but I want the God believers to present some compelling evidence that there is a God. Another question too: For the people that don't believe in evolution, can you please explain to me how dinosaur bones ended up on this planet?

    April 27, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mike

    the box jellyfish is a creature that has no brain no eyes made of 90% water and has the fastest movement in the natural world. Its stinger, when triggered, moves with a force of 40,000 G-forces. How does it do that?? If I was to reach 40k G's i would turn into jelly. How does it survive such a force? The world is just awesome!

    April 27, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Wow

    Wow... you are all 5 year old's.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
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