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. Kinikii Solomon

    What a sad situation this about this story. First, of all I will like to say "Rachel" good luck on your recovery and glad that you are feeling much better. Second, of all its so sad for all the people who made bad commits about "GOD" may he bless us all and good luck to you all!!

    April 28, 2010 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dimitri

    Why do we have to bring "god' or science into it? Why cant we just say something like "Happy she is alive." or "I'm glad she is breathing."?.... Thats it.... none of this other babble....

    April 28, 2010 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. shutTFU

    god bless the little girl in her recovery. god bless the jellyfish and forgive him his transgression. god bless the people who can't spell for shit when they comment. god bless the hypocrites who spout out self-righteous nonsense. but most importantly, god bless the assholes who think they know everything about everything and everyone. amen

    April 29, 2010 at 3:50 am | Report abuse |
  4. gabriel


    April 29, 2010 at 5:57 am | Report abuse |
  5. gabriel

    nah~~~,in here i saw many jellyfish when im in the sea but im killing them so they cant hurt us. hahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!

    April 29, 2010 at 5:59 am | Report abuse |
  6. Dimitri

    hey shutTFU, i want you to practice what your name implies. Because you're annoying. and i hate your face.

    April 29, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BJ the Jellyfish

    It's not wise to kill off the jellyfish because who knows what other horrors this jellyfish keeps in check. Just because something is poisonous does not mean that you have to kill it.

    And believers too because, in war, you need cannon fodder to throw at the enemy. Just look at the crusades.

    April 29, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. DK

    whatta trooper.

    April 29, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MV

    Hey everyone. I'm sure happy that little girl is doing well and I bet her family is too! In all this talk about God did anyone think to blame the devil? Those Biblical scholars who are quoting the Bible might want to remember that it is the devil who comes to kill and destroy and God who heals and saves. Oh and people who believe in God die too. God doesn't spare us. Death and suffering is part of life. God will help us through and if we believe in Jesus our suffering will end. We do have free will to choose God or not btw. Your choice. It's up to you. And science is important too because God gave us our minds and abilities to learn and create, Hopefully towards our betterment. "Science" and everyone on the earth, though, believed for centuries that the earth was flat and in the first book of the Bible God speaks about the earth being round. Guess he knows because he created it. Hmmm.....

    April 29, 2010 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • kyle lee

      i agree with everything you said cause its true but if people dont believe it now they will when he comes!

      October 21, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lars

    Right MV. Why DOES God always get the blame for all of the bad things that happen when much of what happens is our own doing and choices. We have free will. Evil exists. All people do wrong. It's our nature. People do good too. Jellyfish sting. It's their nature. Jellyfish swim away too. The devil causes havoc (or we do) and God gets blamed. We don't get to escape all of the stinging jellyfish just because we believe in God. Even Jesus chose to suffer and be tortured to save us. Jesus could have not cared and just left us alone to destroy ourselves.God hangs the rope (of salvation through Jesus) out of the boat and we grab it or not. We're not forced. I said yes so all I know is I'm choosing to grab on to the rope. I thank God for all that is good and blame the devil for all that is bad.

    April 29, 2010 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jesse

    u know wat number 46 shut up and u grow up cuz GOD is great and he will love u even if u dont love him

    April 30, 2010 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Arike


    May 3, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  13. judith(:

    seiously people. Dont talk about God as if he were a bad guy, cuz He's not! OK!! GET THAT STRAIGHT! MAN! SEriously, GOD IS GOOD AND FOREVER HE WILL BE!!!
    IF she survived look at it!! MAN! God has done so much for humanity and yet people treat Him as He were EVIL AND BAD!! SEriously??
    GOd forgive all the people who take him for granted,,,
    There is this story about a man who went to go cut his hair. The barber started talking to the man telling him God didnt exist because of all the world problems going on. When the barber finished cutting his hair and shaving him, the man left, but on his way out he saw a homeless man with his hair and beard long. Then the man went back and told the barber, there is no such thing as barbers, The barber laughed and said ,"didnt you just come to me?? " Then the man told the barber, yes, but if there were barbers that man would have his hair cut and shaved! Then the barber said, "well he can easily come to me and i will fix him up!" Then the man smiled and said thats how GOd is, people just have to come to me and He will do the rest!


    SO MY POINT, GOD IS GOOD NO MATTER WHAT!!!!!!!!!!ok!!!???


    May 13, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. pedro

    There are two high level variables at play here – how resistant the girl is personally compared to other humans, and how venomous that one jellyfish was compared to others of his species. He could have just been a low toxin individual compared to others of his species due to illness, birth defect, etc. I'm not anti-miracle or anything, it's just crazy how some people are looking wherever to point out the big guy's existence or lack thereof.

    Main point, glad the girl is safe. And secondary point, every third creature in Australia seems to be super-deadly. What's up with that?

    June 29, 2010 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
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