A teenager has shared his near-death beach experience after picking up one of the world’s deadliest animals which harbors enough venom to kill 700 people.A textile cone shell (Conus textile) on sand at night.
The teenager, identified only as Jono, from Queensland, Australia, is an avid shell collector who regularly heads down to the ocean to search for specimens.
The 19-year-old uploaded a clip to TikTok earlier this week, sharing the moment he came inches away from death, after picking up a pretty textile cone. Inside was a cone snail, which is among the “most venomous creatures on earth.”
In the clip, Jono says: “Back 9 months ago I was nearly killed at the beach. I found a LIVE textile cone shell. This animal will kill in less than 9 minutes. I thought it was empty. Please do not pick up cone shells without gloves. Number 4 most deadly animal on earth.”
The video, which has been watched more than 17 million times, was captioned: “The oceans safety should be taught in schools.[sic]” In the background of the video, Jono can be heard claiming it’s his “best find ever,” as he handles the shell without gloves, and holds it in his palm.
Commenting on the video, Angoose said: “Mans holding death in his hand.” Sharing their own near-miss, JMo357 wrote: “Learned this on a school trip to Hawaii. Had a similar close call. I just thought it was a cool shell.” TikToker Maddie admitted: “Now I have a fear of something I didn’t even know existed lol.”
While Blanca E. Perez thanked him for the warning, writing: “I’m so glad I came across this video, literally don’t know a thing about shells. I would have picked it up bcs it’s pretty.” The textile cone shell, or the conus textile, harbors a cone snail, with the conus belonging to the conidae family. There are around 500 different species of cone shell, with the most venomous producing up to 100 individual toxins, known as conotoxins.
“Cone snails are one of the most venomous creatures on earth. Among the most toxic are the textile, geographic, and tulip snails and there is a higher risk of death if the geographic and textile snails are involved,” Aquarium of the Pacific noted. Over the years at least 36 human deaths have been attributed to cone snails, which attacks via an appendage resembling a harpoon, called a proboscis, that protrudes from one end of the shell.
A study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) said: “The handful of humans that are stung by a cone snail are often subject to a venom potent enough to immediately paralyze and eventually kill its prey. The venom from one cone snail has a hypothesized potential of killing up to 700 people.” As humans aren’t the conus’ usual prey, most attacks occur from handling a live specimen, or treading on one.
There is no known antivenom, and patients must immediately be rushed to hospital for treatment. Reactions vary, with the NCBI reporting numbness, necrosis and “unbearable pain.” “These progress from initial weakness, sweating, and visual changes to generalized muscle paralysis, respiratory failure, cardiovascular collapse, and coma. If a patient is untreated, death is rapid and often occurs within one to five hours,” the NCBI added.
Jono was lucky to escape with his life after later realizing the creature was very much alive, and he shared a follow-up clip where he filmed the snail’s infamous red proboscis. He said: “But it is live. You can see the red in there. This thing will kill me in 7 minutes or less. I don’t know what to do with it. I’ve got to be really careful with this one.”