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.

Post by:
Filed under: Australia • Health • Web Pulse • World
soundoff (725 Responses)
  1. android1

    That thing gives me the heebie jeebies....Thoughts are with the girl...Hoping for your full recovery except for the memory of that thing around you....

    April 27, 2010 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Chris

    The child shoud not be alive? How about saying it's a miracle she survived. Statistics and studies can never win over the power of God. Science is incredible as it can teach us many things, but it is nothing compared to the miracles that happen on a daily basis.


    April 27, 2010 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kristina Erin Kaye

    The conversations that go on after any story published here are just so pathetic. AND ... you should all know by now that God is a woman.

    April 27, 2010 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. rockytopseahawk

    Hey Brian...maybe her "perpose" on this earth is to help people learn how to spell purpose.

    April 27, 2010 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Carla

    Rachel, may God bless you with a speedy, complete recovery. I was stung quickly by a jellyfish across my left arm and shoulder blade in Tybee Island, SC. The pain was excruciating and left a slight scar, but I didn't have to be hospitalized. The lifeguard used a jellyfish spray and after a few hours, the pain subsided. It was my 40th birthady, so it was really a horrible experience for me, but I couldn't imagine being enveloped by one and grateful I wasn't. Thank God you survived.

    April 27, 2010 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. James

    An angel of Jesus Christ came down from heaven. The angel said in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, "jelly fish release that child, and venom come out!" In other words, the power of God and the miracle of Christ circumvented all of the scientific protocol, DNA, chromosomal mutations, evolution etc that humans will ponder for the rest of eternity, and the child, who by all scientific accounts should be dead, for some unexplained reason, will live on, and undoubtedly she will live on to tell about the miracle of Christ. No need for scientific dissertations or debate about evolution, DNA, chromosomes, antibodies, or anything else. Anyone who has a true understanding of science would have to agree the complexity of the universe and the organisms therein is too greatx for humans to fully appreciate given our limited time on this earth, therefore, only one other answer exists, and that is faith in Jesus Christ.

    April 27, 2010 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mike from Canada

    Is it really that surprising that she survived? Is it miraculous? It may be the most poisonous jelly fish in the world but it is still just a friggin jelly fish. She wasn't trampled by a herd of elephants or anything. If you want proof of what the human body can endure just type in "stupid people" on youtube.

    April 27, 2010 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. moonpond1900

    shes a miracle!

    April 27, 2010 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Guest

    Guess thats the difference between Australians and Yanks. The Yanks pray to god and Aussies give first aid and get them Antivenom asap.

    April 27, 2010 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. lanmar

    As an Atheist all I can say is Thank God this thread is finally dead

    April 27, 2010 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. choloe

    Just because we dont know the reasons for this happening this girl, we cannot judge, G-d has reasons for everything.
    Have a good recovery rachel!

    April 28, 2010 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  12. Valtiel

    This doesn't prove there is god anything at all, you religious wackos!

    But I can't believe you are using the survival of little girl to support your own religious propaganda.

    You people are disgusting...!

    April 28, 2010 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
  13. rivirivi

    If there is a God and is limitless everything and everyone from the smallest particle to the biggest clump of Multi-Universes exist WITHIN. Therefore everything happens WITHIN. We should all honor our presence WITHIN by shoosing the best actions as in helping ourselves and others achieve happiness. This little girl was very lucky indeed.Jellyfish poison is neutralized by ammonia. Ammonia exists in human urine. Maybe she got scared and produced enough ammonia to neutralize the jellyfish poison, Everything is possible WITHIN the limitlessness of it all. It is our actions which make our consequences good or bad ones. Separating Science from the limitlessness of it all is ridiculous because there is no separation from the limitlessness of God. God does not end where the other group of humans you do not like begin to be. Just because humans do not understand the tremendous vastness of the limitlessness of it all they get confused, I ask then, a human being as miraculous as it is, as wonderful as the chemistry making our bodies is, we are still tiny compared to this cosmos tiniest compared to the biggest clump of multi-universes, yet, humans can think, create, make mistakes, learn, feelings and many more things, do you think that God because he is so vast cannot do more through you (everything) and by himself? People confuse the deep knowledge that there is a power bigger than humans (we all have the same brain cells capacity of perceiving and feeling faith in God) with the religious beliefs of certain organized religions and their greedy egotistic leaders'stupid selfish self-made convenient rules instilling hate, separatism, war, conquers, even pedophilia.

    April 28, 2010 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
  14. motomuppet

    cant believe I just read all these silly God comments...what does God have to do with this? Oh wait...he created it all...thats right...sorry, been busy getting on with life rather than brushing up on a 2000 year old idea of how it all came about. My bad.

    Wait...Santa isn't real..whatthe...

    good luck to the girl though!

    Mike from Canada...come down and touch a box jelly mate, I reckon you'll end up wishing you had only been trampled by a herd of elephants!

    April 28, 2010 at 1:07 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49