An Australian teenager is recovering in hospital after he was left with blood streaming from his feet and ankles following a night-time paddle in the ocean.
Sam Kanizay had waded waist-deep into the ocean at Brighton Beach, Melbourne, on Saturday evening and remained still in the water for around 30 minutes.
But when he got out of the sea he discovered he was bleeding profusely from the calves down.
The 16-year-old told 3AW radio: “The cold water numbed my legs. I felt what I thought was pins and needles but maybe it wasn’t just pins and needles.
“It sort of looked like hundreds of little pin holes or pin-sized bites distributed all over my ankle and the top of my foot.”
Washing the blood off in the shower did not stem the bleeding and Mr Kanizay was taken to the hospital after what his family believed was a sea lice attack.
He added: “We had a few people guessing that it was sea lice, but no one really had any ideas.”
His father scooped some of the creatures out of the water and posted video of them eating small chunks of meat.
Other speculation has blamed stingrays or jellyfish for the teenager’s injuries.
Jeff Weir, from the Dolphin Research Institute, said the likely culprit was probably opportunistic amphipods, tiny crustaceans that latch on to decaying plant or animal matter to help break it down.
“They are not there to eat us, but sometimes they might take a little bit, like mosquitoes and leeches and other things out there in the environment,” he said.
“He must have been very, very cold and he wouldn’t have felt it.”
He added that the creatures cause injuries similar to a graze and the teenager should not be afraid of going back in the sea.
Others pointed the finger at jellyfish larvae or stingrays.