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. Mark

    Notice how nice the comments were going until D. Solomon took a "take that" attitude. Then the board went south. Notice D. Solomon didn't return. Wimp!

    April 27, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. barry

    I notice that many of the believers have poor spelling/attention to detail....as the sample size (on this blog) grows, this pattern persists. This phenomenon seems to correlate to a child-like belief in make-believe...call it a "trend". Poor, scared, little creatures...

    April 27, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Freethought

    "Why can't you all just be happy that this poor little girl who had every chance of dying, didn't?"

    I'll be happier if she can make a full recovery.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Hail Monkey

    @Judith - and your so sure of when/if judgment day will occur huh?.. wow you are so knowledgeable and wise

    April 27, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Blessed

    I thank God 4 d grace given 2 d little girl 2 live.I believe it's hightime U GAVE UR LIVES 2 HIM all of u dat don't believe in God.A WORD THEY SAY IS ENOUGH 4 D WISE.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. teen

    ya i agree.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. butlerbulldawg74


    there's a picture of her leg. it is pretty messed up and not for the squeamish.

    and yes, god had nothing to do with this. how do i know? he told me so, right before he prevented me from being killed by a giant asteroid this morning.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. AZcowgirl

    HOLY CRAP!!!! Calm down! God or no God, At least the girl is alive and should be ok. Stop looking into everything so much and just read the story....She is doing well.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Believer

    Not really sure how anyone could deny the presence of God here. There are some things that science will never be able to explain. Remember, deny Him now and He will deny you later. This is definitely one of His divine MIRACLES. Best wishes for a full and speedy recovery young lady. Tell your story and remember to give God praise for what He has done for you and you family!

    April 27, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. B. Careful

    Everytime you turn around someone HAS to disprove God. The Gospel of Christ is foolishness to those who are perishing. Hey fellas, dress lightly – won't need the jacket.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. wow

    You all trip me out!! LOLOL!! Nonbelievers, you guys amaze me......Believers, I love yall too. But all yall just trip me out. Yall keep on keeping on......

    April 27, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Guest

    This whole God's existence dispute was started by D. Solomon who attacked the atheist first. So don't go around saying they started it...

    Atheist supports science which is the same throughout the world.

    Religion supports a deity. But there's so many religions. Every religion has their own stories and all powerful beings to believe in. How do you know it's God's will or Zeus?

    Quit bickering like kids.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Freethought

    "God saved the little girl, take or leave it. I pity you atheist because on judgement day the God you dont belive in wil be the one to judge you.believe in jesus christ and you shall be saved."

    Judgment day was originally supposed to occur within one generation after Hayzeus's death. A bazillion generations later, the mass transit of souls to heaven is still being postponed.

    As Mal (from the movie 'Serenity') said, "That's a long wait for a train don't come."

    April 27, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. WOW

    God may have saved this little girl but he still kills moms and puppys.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. M.Hunt


    How is that way out in left field? Its called sience, which through the scientific method has been proven to be scientific fact. I didn't just make up natural selection and evolution

    April 27, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
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