Published: Wed, August 09, 2017
Science | By Boyd Webster

Teen's Legs Covered In Blood After Soaking Them In Ocean

Teen's Legs Covered In Blood After Soaking Them In Ocean

When graphic images of a teenager's bloodied feet were published Monday morning in Australia, it sent shockwaves among the country's beachgoers. Viewer discretion is advised. The exact cause is a bit of a mystery, but tiny sea crustaceans may be to blame.

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. What happened next was unexpected. According to the New York Times, 30 minutes after Kanizay stepped out of the water, his ankles were covered in blood. By the time he'd hobbled home it was a bloodbath.

"He rang me, actually, from outside", Jarrod Kanizay told the Post.

Following the attack, Sam's family took him to hospital after realising that the blood "wasn't washing away".

"There was no stopping the bleeding".

Well, the bad news is - we're still not sure. The injured Sam was rushed to hospital and doctors could not explain what had caused the injury.

Not being in any pain, Kanizay calmly called his parents from outside his house and the three of them tried to hose the blood off.

It's the stuff of nightmares - you go in for a quick swim at the beach, and walk out with bites all over your ankles that won't stop bleeding.

Amphipods feed largely on dead marine animals such as fish and crabs, and are themselves prey for larger marine animals.

Thanks to his video, experts were able to confidently identify the creatures as lysianassid amphipods, a type of scavanger shrimp-like crustacean commonly known as "sea fleas". Most amphipods are herbivores while others are omnivorous scavengers and "some non-parasitic ones are particularly fond of blood if available".

Prof Reina said the attack should not alarm people or deter them from swimming.

The 16-year-old's injuries made headlines for being reminiscent of a horror movie, as pictures showed blood flowing from his legs and pooling on his hospital room floor. They are not at all venomous and their bite does not leave any lasting damage.

A popular theory was Kanizay was attacked by especially hungry sea lice, which are usually parasites of fish.

"When he got out, he described having sand on his legs, so he went back in the water", he said.

"It's a bit like if you allowed hundreds of mosquitoes to keep feeding on your arm for half an hour - you'd get an extreme reaction then too, but it's not something that people normally do", Reina wrote.

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