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

    Mary, that's the same line the Muslims are pushing in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

    April 27, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Michael Utley

    Freethought, I believe that god is testing us all everyday. I believe that he wants us all to follow him and have eternal life. It all goes back to the faith issue. I have faith that when my time on Earth ends I will have eternal life. That makes me feel comfortable. I do not know why god allows bad things to happen. I just have faith that when my time has come I will get what god has promised me. I cannot believe in the whole evolution theory. Google "How mathmaticians prove that single cell organisms could not have evolved into intelligent life based on the age of our planet.

    April 27, 2010 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Freethought

    Swordfish, it's called the fossil record. I know you'll try to attack the "missing links" here and there, but they are so insignificant to the whole record, it's a moot argument anymore.

    April 27, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Swordfish

    "No dinosaur bone or fossil has EVER been found that contradicts evolution, and that should tell doubters something."

    So using your logic...God has never been disproven either, so that should tell doubters something.

    I like it.

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

    So has anyone ever encountered one of these jellyfish before? Or any jellyfish for that matter? What are they like in the wild?

    April 27, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. believer

    to the atheists... im a christian and i also believe in evolution, they both co-exist.. you dont believe in only one.. Genisis 1:24-25 – Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after thier kind", and it was so. 25 – God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good. think outside the box instead of black and white.. that goes for christians too.

    April 27, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Abel

    I believe it was Allah's will that this child should live. Truly, a miracle, indeed.

    April 27, 2010 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Swordfish

    Freethought – I asked for a source, not your opinion. Point me to a source thats firmly says "MACRO-EVOLUTION IS NO LONGER A THEORY, IT HAS BEEN PROVEN"

    April 27, 2010 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Richard Fieldner

    I got stung in the balls by one of these jelly fish. My balls swelled up the size of Wilson on Castaway!

    April 27, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JC

    What is funny...(sorta) when you poor souls are in hell burning. I wonder what you are going to be saying then. I am not judging or condemning you. Just..So what if someone said Thank God she is ok. I believe in God; You do not.

    You ever once, think..suppose you are wrong? and there is a God? You act like because you dont understand something...then it means there is no God....... I think my cat is smart...but I cant teach her 1 + 1 = 2 even if I had 1000 of the best minds in the room trying. It is beyond her scope of understanding. If God came down and explained why certain things happened..I doubt you would still get it.

    Anyway, believe what you believe...just dont bash so much.

    April 27, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Chris Bennett

    Wow Swordfish, that's a huge fail.

    Magic pink unicorns and the Flying Spaghetti Monster have never been disproven either. So does that mean they exist?

    Numerous dinosaur bones and fossils which perfectly corroborate evolution DO EXIST. And out of all these EXISTING bones and fossils, not ONE contradicts evolution.

    That's a completely different argument.

    You fail logic. Go directly to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

    April 27, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Freethought

    Michael, mathmaticians can prove and disprove just about anything by manipulating the formulas used. They manipulated our entire financial system here recently by composing terms for IO and option ARM loans, along with the infamous derivatives. Their mathmatical formulas "proving the soundness of these loans and side bets did nothing to stop our economy from plunging into the worst recession we've ever experienced. In fact, they were the main cause.

    four billion years is a long time. It took 3.9 billion of those years just to get to the dinosaurs. To get to where we are is entirely plausible.

    Also, when anyone makes a statement that amounts to "We're too great to have evolved from monkeys" or whatever, it has a foul air of arrogance surrounding it. In this case, we really need to get over ourselves.

    April 27, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Nurse Lisa

    Ty 565 (and Freethought) – by "why hasn't He proven his existence to many other believers out there? " didn't you mean to ask why hasn't He proven His existence to unbelievers?

    He has provided plenty of evidence – check out the prophecies about the Messiah in the old testament and the prophecies fulfilled in the new testament.

    He has given humans free will too. To study His word or not, to accept the truth or not. Since you're fighting so strongly for your right to not believe, it still seems to me like you're really seeking Him and He just may surprise you.

    Mathematical probability can logically rule out the possibility we happened by accident. Again I cannot by osmosis give you my faith. If you are indeed seeking an outlet, try the god and science dot org website – try your hand at creating a better universe than my God did. Be sure to take credit so we can see how brilliantt you are.

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

    I will pray for you all....

    April 27, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Freethought

    Swordfish, the fossil record isn't an opinion. It is tangible evidence. Your opinion of it is, however, just an opinion.

    April 27, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
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