Watch the video of meat-eating sea fleas that left Australian teen gushing blood at Melbourne beach
A teenager who went for a swim at a Melbourne beach and emerged with his feet covered in blood initially stumped marine experts
An Australian teenager whose legs were covered in blood after they were eaten by tiny marine creatures at a Melbourne beach was likely attacked by a swarm of sea lice, scientists said.
When Sam Kanizay, 16, felt sore after football on Saturday, he decided to soak his legs at Dendy Street beach in Brighton. Half an hour later, he walked out covered in what his family said were tiny marine creatures eating his legs.
“When he got out, he described having sand on his legs, so he went back in the water,” said his father, Jarrod Kanizay.
“He went back to his shoes and what he found was blood on his legs. They ate through Sam’s skin and made it bleed profusely.”
The teenager’s father couldn’t stop the bleeding and they went to hospital, where staff were at a loss to explain what had happened.
“As soon as we wiped them [his legs] down, they kept bleeding,” he said.
“There was a massive pool of blood on the floor [at the hospital]. No one knows what the creatures are. They’ve called a number of people, whether it’s toxicity experts or marine exerts and other medics around Melbourne at least ... [and[ yep, no one [knows].”
The next night, Kanizay went back to the beach with a pool net full of meat and captured the creatures he said were responsible.
“What is really clear is these little things really love meat,” he said of a video showing the bugs in a tray of water devouring chunks of meat.
Museums Victoria marine scientist Dr Genefor Walker-Smith, who later examined some of the specimens provided by the teenager’s father, said the tiny creatures were likely sea fleas that are known to eat decomposing plant and animal scraps.
Sea fleas are scavenging amphipod crustaceans and they may have been attracted to a cut on the teenager’s leg, Fairfax Media reported.
“I think this is quite a rare thing. I really just think [Sam] was in the wrong place at the wrong time, probably,” Dr Walker-Smith said.
Jeff Weir, executive director of the Dolphin Research Institute, also believed the teen may have been attacked by amphipods.
But Thomas Cribb, a parasite expert from the University of Queensland, said it would be very unusual for amphipods to cause such extensive bleeding.
“It’s not a parasite I’ve ever come across,” he said.
Meanwhile, marine expert Michael Brown believes the small bugs eating the meat in the video could be jellyfish larvae.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he told Channel Seven’s Sunrise programme.
Additional reporting by Associated Press