If Diana Nyad’s box jellyfish fatality rates were accurate, you’d expect to find dead bodies littering box-prone beaches. But you don’t.
Unless you are a shrimp or small fish, your chance of dying from the mere touch of a box jellyfish tentacle is almost zero. But saying so doesn’t make Diana sound very heroic, so she flips the odds:
Diana Nyad fibs about box jelly fatality rates.
I contacted three box jelly experts, and each one said the same thing: Nyad’s claims are false. (Try searching YouTube for “box jelly stings.” You’ll find lots of videos of victims of box jelly stings not dying.)
Box jellyfish stings are like burns: They can hurt a lot, but they rarely kill. A bad burn over a large percentage of your body may do you in, especially if you can’t get to a hospital. But the number of such deaths as a percentage of the total number of burns is minuscule.
Nyad got stung. She felt like she was on fire, and it scared the hell out of her. But with two doctors and a box jellyfish expert on her crew, she wasn’t going to die.
To turn her mundane but terrifying encounter into an act of heroism, she had to remake the box jelly into a killer whose sting only Diana Nyad can withstand. Otherwise, she’d just be one more ordinary soul out of the thousands or millions who have survived an encounter with the box. That would be too painful to bear.
The box jelly footage comes from SailRockJellyNews, a magnificent four-minute video from SailRockDailyNews. I don’t do the original justice in Tentacles of Death, so I hope you’ll check out the real thing.