In December, a ten-year-old Australian girl named Rachel Shardlow was attacked by one of the most venomous creatures in the world, the deadly box jellyfish. And, Rachel wasn’t just stung. According to CNN, the box jellyfish completely enveloped her until she lost consciousness.
Normally, when a person meets a box jellyfish, the result is near instant death for the human. But Rachel not only survived her encounter; several months later, she’s doing reasonably well. Her surprising story of survival has led at least one professor to credit her with being a medical marvel.
In an interview with Australia’s ABC news, zoology professor Jamie Seymour said that Ms. Shardlow’s injuries were “horrific.” The doctor added, “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.”
Just how unlikely was Ms. Shardlow’s survival? Again, according to the professor, “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.”
The young survivor isn’t 100% herself after being attacked. She has suffered some memory loss and has scarring on her legs where the jellyfish wrapped itself. Still, the father reports that Rachel’s “cognitive skills and memory tests were all fine.”
The recent interview has led to a lot of searches on “pictures of box jellyfish” and “box jellyfish map.” National Geographic writes that the creatures “live primarily in coastal waters off Northern Australia and throughout the Indo-Pacific.” And as for how they got their name? Some think their bell looks a bit like a cube.