He soaked his legs in the bay and when he waded to shore they were bleeding from… lice bites?

Horror film material

It sounds like an idea for a bad horror film. A teenage boy is relaxing after doing sport with pals. He goes to soak his aching legs in the sea, but when he wades to shore he finds his feet and ankles are dripping with blood. He was only in the water for a few minutes but he’s bleeding copiously and the blood shows no sign of stopping. What the hell happened?

The images might look like the work of a visual effects studio, but they’re genuine. Blood-drenched legs, feet and ankles… all real. And what’s worse: nobody really knows what caused the wounds.

It happened last Saturday at Dendy Street Beach in Brighton, a well-to-do suburb of Melbourne. Sam Kanizay, 16, had been playing football with friends on the beach. His legs were sore from running and falling in the sand so he decided to refresh them in the icy cold sea water – 3ºC registered in that area of Australia last week – for a few minutes.

‘When he got out, he described having sand on his legs, so he went back in the water,’ Sam’s father explained to AAP. ‘He went back to his shoes and what he found was blood on his legs. As soon as we wiped them (his legs) down, they kept bleeding,’ he said.

The teenager said that although he had felt a tingling sensation while his legs were in the water, he’d assumed it was from the coldness of the sea. When he saw the blood he thought he must have stepped on a rock, but then he realised that couldn’t have been it, ‘because it was evenly distributed over my whole ankle and foot.’

Jarrod Kanizay took his son to hospital. The doctors were also mystified about what had happened to Sam’s legs and struggled to staunch the bleeding. ‘As soon as we wiped them (his legs) down, they kept bleeding,’ said Jarrod. ‘There was a massive pool of blood on the floor (at the hospital).’

Sam’s feet were a feast for some kind of sea creature. The pinprick wounds are there to prove it. What is not so clear is what kind of animal it was.

Some specialists believe that it could have been sea lice. Normally their bites are tiny and, like wasp stings, cause swelling but not bleeding. But there are some varieties of sea lice which do more damage. ‘They’re scavengers who’ll clean up dead fish and feed on living tissue,’ biologist Professor Michael Keough from the University of Melbourne told The Age.

Others, such as expert Michael Brown think Sam’s bites could be from jellyfish larvae. ‘I’ve been doing this for coming on 20 years now and I’ve never seen anything like this,’ he said.

Sam’s father was determined to get to the bottom of the matter. He went back to the beach and, using a net full of raw meat in the water, he caught a sample of the creatures he believes attacked his son. The footage he recorded shows hundreds of the lice in a tray of water devouring chunks of meat. ‘What is really clear is these little things really love meat,’ he said.


Today's PlayGround Videonews: