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. Freethought

    "Dude, it is even still called the THEORY of evolution rather than the law of because it is unprovable."

    Actually, it has been proven, and even documented many times during our lifetime. Sorry, truth wins again.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Cindy

    We'll all meet on Judgement Day and we will all find out ifGod exists or not. But right now, I thank God for all the blessings we receive, esp. the survival of this little girl!

    April 27, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. The Great Debate

    No one can KNOW whether or not God played a role in saving the childs life. What many of us choose to believe through faith is that God does not punish us for our sins in this lifetime by sending giant jellyfish to sting us or a random drive-by shotting, but rather gave us the ultimate gift of love and forgiveness for eternity so that when our time comes (through tragedy or through a peaceful death in bed), we may live on with Him.

    On a side note: Freethought; how small minded and childish to say "Score, match and game" to the worlds oldest and most debated question. Do you really believe your few words are the ultimate end-all-be-all to THE great debate? Perhaps you should open your mind?

    April 27, 2010 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Swordfish

    Really? Has macro-evo been proven...please site sources, Freethought.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Pat

    Freethought, I'm sorry you've come to that conclusion. But hey, at least I gave you an opportunity and unlike other religions I won't be forced to "eliminate the infidel"...Prayin for you... peace.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Freethought

    "Freethought, Like I said before it is all a matter of faith. If I am wrong what is the worst thing that will happen to me. I will be in the same boat as you. I would hate to be in your shoes if you are wrong."

    I know I'm not wrong, but I think you should live your life the way that makes you comfortable.

    The scenario of "I'd hate to be you if you're wrong" promotes fear. What real god would need to make men fear him. What's the purpose of that? Why deson't he reveal himself to let us know he's really there? Why all these rediculous tests? It all sounds way too cruel that an all-powerful being would subject us to such cruelty to be true. This is why I cannot place faith in your god.

    But that's just me.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Afi N. Binta

    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them, For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, ... Romans 1:18-20

    Seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, day and night, winter and summer... Genesis 8:22.

    Psalm 19:1-6 The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork, Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices like a strong man to run his race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, and its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

    Beautiful poetry! Especially since there are two kinds of life! Our natural human life, and the knowledge that is derived from our five senses, and the second life, the Life and Nature of God. Eternal Life is the nature of God, the new kind of life that Jesus brought to the world. John 17:3, And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
    John 1:4, IN HIM was life, and the life was the light of men.
    First John 5:9-13, ...v.12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
    Man was created in the image and likeness of God, Genesis 1:26; Man is a spirit being, First Thessalonians 5:23...your whole spirit, soul, and body... Hebrews 4:12, The Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of the soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
    First Peter 1:23, Being born again of incorruptible seed, by the Word of God that lives and abides forever...
    One becomes a Christian when one knows who Jesus Christ is and why He came, one recognizes that one is lost without Him and invites Him into one's life, and allows Him to change one from the inside out, with His Word that one allows to penetrate into one's heart by hearing and hearing by the Word of God on a daily basis, literally, one hears oneself say what God says in His Word on a daily basis. Psalm 45:1 ...my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Cindy

    Amen Great Debate!

    April 27, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ty

    To Nurse Lisa – If He has proven His existence to you, why hasn't He proven his existence to many other believers out there? Is there a God, or are we just believing in something to answer questions about our universe. Are we just believing in something so that if scientists don't have answers right away, you can just say God did it?

    April 27, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Freethought

    "On a side note: Freethought; how small minded and childish to say "Score, match and game" to the worlds oldest and most debated question. Do you really believe your few words are the ultimate end-all-be-all to THE great debate?"

    Lowered yourself to name-calling, have you? I won't. Also, I don;t find "the great debate" to be all that great. So far, debunking any agrument sent my way has been all too easy.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mary Shepherd

    I'm sure this blessed child is more mature than the ignorant adults arguing over God's existence rather than being thankful for her life being spared.. This whole article made me so sad. We don't need an enemy to come into our country and defeat us, Those of you who believe "this is all there is"- just keep teaching your children your beliefs, and our country will fail without help from any foreign country. We're doing well enough destroying our country by ourselves.

    April 27, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Freethought

    Pat, you are way too kind. More should be like you.

    April 27, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Pastafarian

    @Nick: Well this interesting for those who believe in God it is true what the atheist say "why would God allow this?" However I have a counter statement why does society continue on? If you are atheist you don't believe in God correct? Then what is the fear of death if there is nothing there to be afraid of? Could it be that deep down in your heart, despite every denial you have, a glimer of fear overcomes you, when in the presence of death? Truly humans our wonderous creatures even in denial they show there anger and hate for something they say does not exist, hmmm or maybe you are confused as to what is true be it science or divinty all things that live physically die.... What happens next is up to you.

    I fear death not because I fear the Great Unknown but because I fear not living my life. I'm afraid of not making a difference in at least one person's life. I fear not becoming immortal through my daughter and any future children. I fear leaving behind me when I die a legacy of pain and anger. I fear NOT leaving behind me when I die a legacy of love, tolerance, and joy. I fear not leaving this world a better place than when I entered it. I fear not experiencing all the cultures this world has to offer.

    That is why I, as a true atheist, fear death.

    April 27, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Swordfish

    Still waiting on sources stating macro-evo has been proven.......

    April 27, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Chris Bennett

    Dinosaur bones are entirely unnecessary to prove evolution. It would still be a proven theory based on other scientific evidence even if no dinosaur bones or fossils had ever been found. The fact that dinosaur bones and fossils exist in exactly the places evolution suggests they should only further corroborates evolution. Evolution has been proven as much as *anything* can be proven, and it is not called a theory to express any kind of uncertainty. No dinosaur bone or fossil has EVER been found that contradicts evolution, and that should tell doubters something.

    April 27, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
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