He wants to send a warning to other parents
Not a summer goes by without some scary story happening on a beach that makes us all think twice about going for a dip in anything that’s not full of chlorine and self-contained. Usually we hear about rip tides taking people away, sharks attacking surfers, or even jellyfish causing serious injury. This time, the culprit was something that’s extremely small and hard to see. A large group of them ate away at a teen boy’s legs, and it was his father who had to tell the doctors what they were.
A Strange Case
Over in Melbourne, Australia, 16-year-old Sam Kanizay went over to the popular bathing spot Brighton Beach to cool off his legs in the water after he got out of a ball game. He later said that he stood in one spot waist-deep in the water for about half an hour on Saturday, August 5. By the time he arrived home, he realized that the bottom part of his legs were bleeding profusely.
His father Jarrod Kanizay told the BBC, “It looked like a war injury … like a grenade attack. It was really bloody. We got him in the shower but as soon as we did that, the blood kept reappearing. It wasn’t clotting at all. It just kept bleeding and bleeding.” Jarrod took Sam to the hospital right away.
Sam couldn’t get an immediate diagnosis; two hospitals couldn’t figure out the case. He had hundreds of tiny pin-sized bites from little bugs on him, but the doctors couldn’t identify them. Jarrod said, “There was a massive pool of blood on the floor.”
He knew that he had to do something, so he went to the ocean to see what he could find. He stated, “I collected these strange creatures from the same spot last night by trapping them in a net and standing in the water myself.”
He took a bucket of water home, threw in some meat and filmed what happened to it. The meat was being devoured by tiny little creatures that he had never seen before. It turned out that Sam was being eaten up by sea fleas, also called lysianassid amphipods and sea lice, a type of crustacean.
But the medical staff was still confused as to why they attacked him like this. Marine biologist Genefor Walker-Smith said about the creatures, “It’s possible he disturbed a feeding group but they are generally not out there waiting to attack like piranhas.”
University of Melbourne marine biologist Michael Keough concurred, “They’re scavengers who’ll clean up dead fish and feed on living tissue. They’re mostly less than a centimeter long, and so the bites they make are pretty small, and so that’s more consistent with pinprick size marks. Especially if he’s been standing around for a long time, it’s the chance for more of them to come in and start biting. Just be attracted to a little bit of blood. And if he’s standing in the water and he’s cold and may not notice a whole lot of little bites.”
Though Sam is recovering now, it’s still quite mysterious as to how he got so many bites so quickly and didn’t seem to notice. Richard Reina, an associate professor at Monash University’s School of Biological Sciences, said, ”Sea lice normally go after dead or dying animals — they bite humans too but not as severe as this case. I suspect the reason why the wounds were so intense was because he was standing still for so long and his legs went numb.”
He added, “The general public should not be alarmed because this is a very rare case.”
Sam isn’t too worried about this happening again and says that this one incident won’t slow him down. He said, “I may ice my legs in the pool from now on but I’ll definitely go out swimming there again. Plenty of people go for a swim in there, so it’s probably just a one-off thing.”
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