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. Nesto

    While every one is arguing i will just let people be...I am of Christian faith and I'd rather live and die believing in God and when i die if he dont exist.. then oh well i had beliefs and faith, than to die and realize he did exist and be screwed. I might sit right with the christians or with the athiest but i got my special relationship. You can hate if u want.

    April 27, 2010 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jason

    The man or woman that doesn't believe in God is a FOOL! People say "why do bad things happen"? Simply because we have free will. If God forced you to serve him, what honor would be in that? Just as "good" things happen to "bad" people, "bad' things happen to "good" people, but let's not charge God foolishly...for us to question God is so asinine because His ways are far beyond anything we can fathom.

    The girl decided to get into the water and the ocean is without mercy. And God should be praised that her life was spared, whether the jellyfish was impotent or not. Don't try to discredit her testimony.

    God cares, it says so in the famous John 3:16 scripture, but let's keep things in perspective.

    April 27, 2010 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Akilah Barrett

    this is just rude who cares if yer not a beliver u dont have to go post it on the internet and effend every body in the wole dag on stae goddnes cant people just get along

    April 27, 2010 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Impressionable Children

    RE: 606 (Micheal Scott)....Your ignorance is astounding. Nemo was never stung by a jellyfish, it was in-fact his father, Marlin, and Dory who swam through the "jellies" and were stung.

    Please get your facts straight before spewing falsehoods in this comments section.

    April 27, 2010 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Pilar Lara

    When my older brother was 13 or 14 years old (in Lima – Peru), was stung by a box jellyfish too, you could see the marks on his body like the jelly fish hugh him completely.
    He was in the hospital for some time, and thanks to the fishermans who help him came out of the ocean, my brother stillis alive.
    My brother retire few years ago from the Air Force; divine spirit or not who help him; I just say thanks that he could overcame such a terrible attack.

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

    whether you believe in God or not.. why do you guys have to rip someone apart who DOES believe in God?? make ur day better? hope so..

    April 27, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Isaac

    People need to quit using the God=x idea. Go ahead and believe (I do believe in God, but am not into organized religion) but set boundaries on those beliefs rather than holding onto whatever hasn't been disproven. And @swordfish, DNA sequencing mixed with humanoid fossils is good enough to prove that we have evolved from apes. Creationism is unfounded and can't be brought up in a scientific discussion because it has no real proof. And also, Rachel, I'm very glad that you're okay!

    April 27, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. the hoff

    there is no god

    April 27, 2010 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bugbait

    Wonder what happened to the jellyfish? Fascinating critters.

    April 27, 2010 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. believer

    swordfish post 608 – im thankful you posted that cause that also confirms what i believe as well.. its okay to believe in God and evolution

    April 27, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Pat

    Amanda, I'm not the Pat you're thinking of...
    x equals x
    not(x) does not equal y or z or anything else.

    April 27, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Patrick

    Her blood is the antidote for future stings!

    April 27, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. MrShabazz

    What?? Is no one going to blame this on Barack Obama? Surely, he sent the jellyfish to sting the girl as part of his socialist agenda.

    Ask Sarah Palin, she'll tell you.

    April 27, 2010 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Lily Hatterson

    My father is a worker of EPA. He will be working to save others like you. All my feelings are toward you.

    April 27, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. skiguy

    The religious are such peculiar people.....

    Good job being so tough Rachel. Hang in there....

    April 27, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
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