JELLYFISH LAKE, THE ROCK ISLANDS OF PALAU

I read about Jellyfish Lake years and years ago. It has always been in the back of my mind as a place where our family needs to go. It is a fascinating story of the natural evolution of a species; the golden jellyfish which inhabit the lake have few predators and have almost completely lost their ability to sting.

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The lake is wide and different to many lakes as the 15m threshold leads to no oxygen, high levels of toxic hydrogen sulfide and lots of ammonia. Our guide stated that decades ago a group went down to 30m and in minutes the water started to eat away their wetsuits (hence, no divers allowed). You can read about the lakes ecological make-up here.

We arrived after a windy and rainy ride, ahead of the majority of tours. It is the peak time for Japanese tourism which means groups of 50, moving in tight packs with life jackets on. We had our snorkel gear with us and decided to skip the life jackets so that we could dive.

With very little trepidation, we headed past the tight, lifejacket wearing packs to the deeper middle part of the lake where the sun was shining and the golden jellyfish were floating near the top, in the thousands.

It was mesmerizing. Configuration: Canon G12 with Canon WP-DC34 underwater casing.

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Due to the make up of the lake, the water has this green tinge too it and visibility is limited to around 2m.

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The jellyfish were more “solid” than I expected. Almost rubbery to the touch and no sting.

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I found myself gently moving them around .. bouncing the jellyfish up and down, while watching their pulsing .. rhythmic movement. We were also very careful with our fins .. kick to hard and you would cut one in half.

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And of course, we had to dive through them .. floating up through hundreds of jellyfish is a unique experience.

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This shot provides a perspective on the numbers. If you go .. swim to the middle .. toward the sun, away from others.

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It is like nothing I have ever done before. Fortunate to have the opportunity.

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