Deadly box jellyfish kills boy, 14, by ‘wrapping six-foot tentacles around him’

A shocked eyewitness described how a teenage boy was ‘covered in tentacles’ after encountering a deadly box jellyfish.

The 14-year-old managed to stagger from the water at Eimeo Beach, north of Mackay in Queensland, Australia, at around 2.30pm on Saturday February 26, but died later in hospital.

Beachgoer Kirby Dash says she saw the boy coming out of the water with an “unreadable expression on his face” before he weakly called for help.

“He had gone into shock,” she told the Daily Mercury, adding “His legs were covered in tentacles.”

According to eyewitness reports, the sea beast's tentacles were well over six feet long.

As panicked parents shouted for their kids to get out of the water, a few bystanders tried to help the lad.

Eimeo Surf Life Saving Club president Ross Gee told reporters that rescuers poured 8 gallons of vinegar over the boy in a bid to remove the stingers from his legs and hand.

“We were there as he exited the water, quickly after that he was semi-conscious,” he said.

After paramedics had been attempting to resuscitate the boy for almost an hour, he was taken to Mackay Base Hospital but despite medics’ best efforts he died approximately 40 mines later.

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Jenny Rees from Surf Lifesaving Queensland told ABC News that volunteer lifeguards had done everything they could.

"They got him out of the water and he had lots of tentacles around his legs, which they pulled off. A lot of vinegar was administered and CPR was administered immediately.”

She added that warnings had been in place that bathing at the beach was dangerous: ”They have put three red flags up along the beach and they've been warned to stay out of the water," she said.

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Jellyfish expert Lisa-Anne Gershwin says that box jellyfish stings can kill within two minutes.

Brushing against the animal’s tentacles is incredibly painful, and it’s a swimmer’s natural reaction to the pain that makes encounters so deadly: "You instinctively jerk away from it and that spooks the animal, so they reel in their tentacles," she said.

"When you start struggling the jellyfish gets caught up in your legs and it starts panicking and accidentally wraps around your legs.

"Millions of barbs carry tiny payloads of very lethal toxin," she said, "which goes into the skin and rapidly travels to the heart”.

The toxin paralyses the heart, often leading to death within minutes.

She added that swimmers should wear protective clothing if they are considering swimming in areas where box jellyfish are present: "If people are going to go in the water in areas that don't have nets then you just have to have protective clothing. It's that simple."

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