In an incident likened to a scene from a horror film, Sam Kanizay, 16, went to Brighton beach in Melbourne on Saturday and spent 30 minutes standing in the water to sooth his legs after a football game, MANA correspondent reported.
When he walked out, his legs were covered by creatures that are believed to be some form of flesh-eating bug.
"I walked out and saw what I thought was sand covering my calf and shook it off, and by the time I'd walked across the sand …. I looked down and noticed I had blood all over my ankles," he told 3AW Radio.
"It took a while to get all the blood off and it came back pretty quickly… It sort of looked like hundreds of little pinholes or pin-sized bites distributed all over my ankle and the top of my foot.”
Jarrod Kanizay, Sam’s father, said his son was calm and not in any pain. But the family rushed him to hospital when it became clear that the blood “wasn’t washing away”.
“They ate through Sam’s skin and made it bleed profusely,” he said.
Mr Kanizay returned to the beach on Sunday night with a net filled with raw meat and captured tiny bugs which he believes were responsible. He then released a video of the creatures devouring the meat.
"What is really clear is these little things really love meat," he said.
Experts have given mixed assessments of the identity of the bugs which attacked the 16-year-old, noting that the creatures filmed by Mr Kanizay may have been different to those which attacked his son.
Hospital officials initially told Sam they thought the creatures were a form of sea lice but “were all on Google and … had 10 different hypotheses” .
Richard Reina, an expert on marine biology at Monash University, agreed that the creatures were probably sea lice, noting that such attacks were “very rare” and that beachgoers should not be alarmed.