Sam’s father, Jarrod Kanizay, decided to investigate by dropping a hunk of raw steak in the water where his son was attacked. He posted a video of the result: hundreds of tiny sea creatures feasting on the meat.
A University of New South Wales associate professor, Alistair Poore, said the animals in the video were not sea lice, but another group of small scavengers called amphipods, which are not known to bite humans.
“You can attract a lot of animals in the sea with raw meat,” Dr. Poore said. “Even though it’s interesting, it doesn’t prove to me they were the ones that bit his legs.”
Dr. Poore said he was doubtful that this was a particularly aggressive strain of sea lice but suspected that there may be greater numbers in the area than normal — something that may be caused if a lot of dead fish were in the area.
Although a similar sea lice attack on another teenage boy was reported at a nearby beach in 2015, Dr. Poore said sea lice lived all over the world: “It’s not an Australian thing.”
“It’s a fascinating story to show that the animals are out in urban areas, we don’t live totally separated from nature,” Dr. Poore said. “Just like there are mosquitoes and leeches on land that will bite humans, the same happens in the ocean.”