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The flesh-eating creatures responsible for gnawing on an Australian teen's legs have been identified as carnivorous sea fleas.
The small crustaceans normally feed on dead marine life. However when 16-year-old Sam Kanizay went for a dip at the Dendy Street Beach in Melbourne on Saturday night, he came out dripping blood.
"He went back to his shoes and what he found was blood on his legs. As soon as we wiped them down, they kept bleeding," his father told news.com.au.
The wounds refused to close up, due to the anti-coagulants in the creatures' saliva, and Sam had to be taken to the hospital.
"There was a massive pool of blood on the floor [at the hospital]," his father says.
Marine biologists believe they have identified the culprit as sea fleas, which scavenge on flesh.
Museums Victoria marine scientist Dr Genefor Walker-Smith examined specimens, and says the attack was bad luck.
"I think this is quite a rare thing. I really just think [Sam] was in the wrong place at the wrong time, probably," she says.
"It probably did make it worse that [Sam] was standing still; they may not have been able to cling on too tightly if he had been moving through the water. They're used to eating dead things still on the bottom [the ocean floor]."