Australian Teen Attacked By Marine Flesh Eater: What Are Those Mysterious Sea Critters?
“There was no stopping the bleeding.”
This was how an innocent trip to the ocean ended up for 16-year-old Sam Kanizay late Saturday, where he waded into the water off Brighton Beach without anything unusual and emerged from the water with such profuse bleeding.
“We were pretty amazed,” his father, Jarrod, told Washington Post, recalling how they discovered thousands of tiny bites on the teenager’s legs alongside a huge amount of blood.
On the way to the hospital, Sam said his pain could reach eight out of 10, his dad added. But what flesh eater really caused the young man’s ordeal at the beach?
Could It Be Sea Lice?
Sam said a nurse had suggested sea lice, a local report from The Age noted. It was, however, a mere guess.
Michael Keough, a marine biologist and professor from the University of Melbourne, agreed that it was a possibility.
He described the weird creatures as “scavengers who’ll clean up dead fish and feed on living tissue,” typically less than a centimeter in length and thus likely to produce pinprick-size marks on skin.
A spokesperson for Monash Health, which oversees Dandenong Hospital where Sam was sent to, said they are still assessing the patient and it could be too early for his doctor to comment on his case.
How About Sea Fleas?
Dr. Genefor Walker-Smith, a marine scientist at Museums Victoria, examined samples collected by Sam’s father through bites of meat as lure. The creatures were believed to be sea fleas, not sea lice as previously thought.
The tiny carnivorous critters feed on human flesh but this isn’t a cause for concern, the doctor explained. The amount of bites sustained by the 16-year-old was unusual and a swarm of fleas might have been drawn to a cut in his skin. Sam, too, may have possibly stepped near fish remains they were feeding on.
Sea fleas are scavengers that are part of the lysianassid group. They are commonly found all over the world, particularly where they can find a piece of meat.
While the victim is expected to fully recover, his excess bleeding remained a mystery. Walker-Smith suggested some sea fleas might inject an anticoagulant into their food to prevent blood clotting.
“It is possible that the amphipod has an anti-coagulant that it released like leeches do,” the expert said.
The family has lived in the Brighton Beach area for two decades now. Jarrod stated on a Facebook post, however, that he, his friends, or any of the medics had not heard of the flesh-eating incident happening before.
Last month, a Florida man made headlines for surviving without loss of limbs from a fatal flesh-eating bacteria infection he got while hiking Mount Garfield in New Hampshire.