Snorkeling With Millions Of Golden Jellyfish

I have had this thought. You probably have too. While out snorkeling or swimming in the ocean a milky blob of gelatin comes into view, floating nearby on the surface and minding its own business. Is it a discarded bag of plastic? No, it is a jellyfish. The thought of immediate retreat comes to mind. And why wouldn’t it? The sting of some jellyfish species is painful while others can be deadly. And it should be since it is their only defense mechanism against enemies.

But on the Palauan island of Eil Malik in Micronesia an opportunity exists to snorkel with millions of golden jellyfish in Jellyfish Lake. It is the only one of its kind that allows snorkeling. When the ocean receded 12,000 years ago the jellyfish got trapped in a natural basin. Over time, with the loss of all predators except the white sea anemone, the jellyfish evolved and lost most of their stinging abilities (a wetsuit or protective clothing is advised if you have sensitive skin or are allergic). They survive off the algae that live in their cells. To keep the algae healthy, the jellyfish swim the surface of the lake for sunlight by day and swim the nitrogen rich depths by night.

Photographer Sarosh Jacob captured this experience on video.

Knowing these fascinating creatures are harmless I would venture into Jellyfish Lake next time I am in the Palau Islands to experience this unique adventure of being enveloped by translucent silk beings and mesmerized by the simple, yet quiet rhythm of them pulsating in and out.


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