When Sam Kanizay left his football game on Saturday night, he thought he’d go for a quick dip at Dendy Street Beach in Melbourne to cool down. The 16-year-old dipped his legs in the water and relaxed. Then, though, he felt an odd tingling sensation–nothing painful, but when he pulled his legs out, they were covered in blood.
“I didn’t feel anything untoward when I was in the water,” he told the Herald Sun. “It was cold, so I expected my legs to go numb.” He stayed there for about half an hour before deciding to get out. That’s when he noticed that his feet and legs were covered in tiny cuts. At first, he assumed the bleeding must’ve been because he cut himself on a rock, but then the bleeding wouldn’t stop. “Blood covered both of my feet and I was leaving little pools (of blood) everywhere,” he said. “I thought I had maybe stood on a rock, but the amount of blood quickly told me that wasn’t it.”
Kanizay walked home, leaving a bloody trail. When he got there, he decided he’d better not go inside, because the bleeding was so bad. “He actually waited out the front and called out for help because he didn’t want to bleed inside the house,” mother Jane Kanizay said to the New Zealand Herald. “We tried washing the blood off, but quickly realized we couldn’t stem the bleeding so we took him to Sandringham Hospital.”
When he got there, doctors cleaned him up and had a closer look at his injuries. What they found baffled them. Described as “pin-sized holes”, the bleeding continued well into the next afternoon. Doctors have no real idea could have caused the strange wounds, although one nurse thought that sea lice could be the culprit.
After doctors cleaned him up, they found hundreds of tiny pin-sized holes in his feet and ankles. Image: AAP
After doctors cleaned him up, they found hundreds of tiny pin-sized holes in his feet and ankles. Image: AAP
“It took a while to get all the blood off and it came back pretty quickly,” Kanizay told 3AW. “It sort of looked like hundreds of little pin holes, or pin type bites, distributed all over my ankle and the top of my foot.”
Kanizay’s family wants answers, and they’re doing their own sleuthing.  “They pretty much had ten different hypotheses but nothing yet,” the teenager said. “My dad is going to tie a piece of meat to a stick and see if anything goes to eat it.”
And his father did just that the next day, with some pretty horrifying results. According to the Daily Mail, Jarrod Kanizay took a fishing net and a chunk of meat out to the same place where Sam was injured. “I caught some bugs overnight over in the bay,” he said to Daily Mail Australia. “I’ve put meat into a net and they’ve grabbed on to that like no tomorrow. We’ve brought them home and they’ve just attached themselves to this meat. They’ve sucked the life out of it – all the blood.”
The video he took has at least one marine expert perplexed. “I’ve been doing this for coming on 20 years now,” Michael Brown told Channel Seven’s Sunrise program. “I’ve never seen anything like this.” He went on to suggest that they could be jellyfish larvae. Genefor Walker-Smith, a marine biologist from Museums Victoria, has a different idea–the creatures are a kind of scavenging crustacean known as lysianassidae amphipods.
“It was just unlucky. It’s possible he disturbed a feeding group but they are generally not out there waiting to attack like piranhas,” Dr. Walker-Smith said in a statement on Monday.
Sam’s not too worried about it, though, and isn’t going to avoid the ocean. “‘Plenty of people go for a swim in there,” he said. “So it’s probably just a one-off thing.”