A teenager in Australia was left with "profusely bleeding legs" after he was reportedly attacked by tiny carnivorous "sea fleas" in the ocean. (Warning: The photos below are graphic.)
Sam Kanizay, 16, of Melbourne went swimming after a football game at Dendy Street Beach, and said he felt a tingling sensation on his legs, according to BuzzFeed. When Sam stepped out of the water, he noticed that his legs were bleeding heavily.
"I wasn't really thinking about being eaten," Sam said, according to The Age. "My first instinct was that I must have stepped on a rock. But I realized that couldn't have been it, because it was evenly distributed over my whole ankle and foot."
Sam left "a path of blood" as he walked home, and his father, Jarrod, and younger sister tried to help him wash them blood off. When the family was unable to stop the blood flow, they took Sam to the emergency room, where he was given antibiotics and painkillers.
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Jarrod said that he regularly swims at Dendy Street Beach but hadn't seen anything like what happened to his son before.
"We had the emergency full of everybody that was working there just fascinated, they were all on Google afterwards, hypothesizing as to what had happened," said Jarrod. "They had pretty much 10 different hypotheses but nothing yet."
To investigate what happened to Sam's legs, Jarrod decided to visit the beach. He brought a net and a raw steak, which he put into the water. The results of Jarrod's experiment may provide the answer to why Sam's legs were bleeding from tiny holes.
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"We found thousands of little mite-type creatures in our net," said Jarrod.
"We put them in a [cooler] and brought them home and looked at them intently and let them swim in white dishes with red meat," the father said. "Interestingly, overnight they've essentially all clung to the meat and have been busy overnight eating it."
According to Dr. Genefor Walker-Smith, a marine scientist, sea fleas often feed on dead fish, which swimmers should try to avoid swimming near.
"They're there all the time," said Walker-Smith, "you could put a piece of meat in the water, anywhere in the bay, and you could find them."
She added that Sam's encounter with sea fleas "is quite a rare thing. I really just think [Sam] was in the wrong place at the wrong time, probably."
The Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning in Victoria called the fleas a "natural part of a healthy marine ecosystem." The DELWP added that they "keep our marine waters clean by consuming dead and dying marine animals."
The department suggested that swimmers to not swim at night and to wear a wetsuit to avoid sea flea bites.
Sam is expected to make a full recovery, reports the Independent.
"I'd hate to see anyone else going through this," said Sam's mother, Jane. "If we can prevent it for anyone else, that's the aim of us talking to people."