When a teenager who went for a short swim at a popular Melbourne beach emerged with grizzly bloodied legs the Internet was shocked and horrified.
Photos of young Sam Kanizay’s feet went viral, especially as the bleeding could not be stopped and the hapless teen was leaving pools of blood in the hospital corridor.
Sam’s dad, Jarrod, was determined to find out what caused his son’s injuries, and why they wouldn’t stop bleeding.
He ended up capturing a hefty scoop of creepy crawlies after baiting them with bloody meat and showed them zooming about in a tub of water - sucking the blood from the meat chunks.
Frankly, it was terrifying.
Now, Dr. Genefor Walker-Smith, a marine biologics from Museums Victoria, has confirmed what caused Sam’s gruesome injuries. He was dinner for a cluster of tiny scavenging crustaceans known as lysianassidae amphipods - or sea fleas.
Similar to leeches and lice, Dr Walker-Smith says the creatures use an anti-clotting chemical when they bite to keep the blood flowing.
In a statement, Dr Walker-Smith says that despite the scary images, fans of Derby Street Beach don’t need to stay out of the water.
‘It was just unlucky. It's possible he disturbed a feeding group but they are generally not out there waiting to attack like piranhas.’
Sam is still recovering in hospital and hasn’t been able to walk since the incident.
‘Whenever he will move, it will open up those wounds ... so I think there’ll be some time, probably, on the couch when he gets home,’ says dad, Jarrod.