An Australian teenager who went for a swim at the beach was rushed to the hospital after tiny “sea fleas” left hundreds of gashes in his feet.
Sam Kanizay, 16, was sore from playing soccer on Saturday, and decided to dip his feet in the waters of Dendy Street Beach in the suburbs of Melbourne.
When he emerged from the water a half hour later, his feet and ankles were covered in hundreds of pin holes that would not stop bleeding.
His father Jarrod Kanizay rushed him to the hospital, where doctors managed to stop the bleeding even though they had no idea what caused the wounds.
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Jarrod Kanizay then returned to the beach the next night wearing two layers of wet suits to protect his legs from the amphipods commonly known as “sea fleas” as he lowered a net full of meat into the water.
Sure enough, thousands of the critters measuring just 2 millimeters long swarmed around and feasted on the meat.
“What is really clear is these little things really love meat,” he said.
Experts were intially stumped but marine biologist Genefor Walker-Smith, who examined the sample collected by Jarrod Kanizay, concluded the critters were crustaceans called amphipods, which usually eat decomposing plant and animal scraps.
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Thomas Cribb, a parasite expert from the University of Queensland, said it was very unusual for amphipods to cause such extensive bleeding.
“It’s not a parasite I’ve ever come across,” he said.
But Walker-Smith said: ‘It’s possible the amphipods contained an anti-coagulant, which would account for the inability to stop the flowing blood and that the very cold water may be the reason Sam didn’t feel the bites.”
The amphipods are not venomous and Sam, who was still hospitalized on Monday, has been taken off antibiotics.
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