Of the 8 islands that make up Micronesia, Palau just like Chuuk Lagoon is famous for it’s World class Scuba diving. However, the 70 odd marine lakes scattered throughout the limestone “rock islands” of the southern portion of the main Palau archipelago are a great way for non-divers to get a glimpse of some interesting underwater life by just snorkeling on the surface. One lake in particular, draws a lot of attention as being unique- The Jellyfish Lake also known as Ongeim’l Tketau in Palauan.
In a freak incident of nature over 12,000 years ago, a submerged reef rose from the sea creating a landlocked saltwater lake containing some Jellyfish. These intelligent creatures over the years adapted into the Scyphozoa class of jellyfish called ‘Golden Jellyfish’ and ‘Moon Jellyfish’, they lost their sting and thrived in the new environment. In a matter of years the lake was home to millions of golden and moon jellyfish along with some sea anemone. The jellyfish nurture a symbiotic relationship with algae that live in their tissues in exchange for nutrition and capture zooplankton for more. This algae requires plenty of sunlight to grow and the jellyfish ferry across the lake twice daily from one side to the other providing their internal algae with the sunlight it needs. At night, the jellyfish swim to lower depths where the water is rich in nitrogen that helps sustain the algae population. The jellyfish keep away from their lone predator in this lake, the sea anemone that is capable of stinging, trapping and killing them.
The Jellyfish Lake in Palau, Micronesia attracts a lot of tourists to snorkel in it’s jellyfish infested waters. Tour operators in Koror offer trips to the lake on Eil Malk island which is approximately a 45 minute boat ride from Koror. Described as “swimming in a lava lamp with gelatinous blobs floating all around you, bouncing off your arms, head and feet”, it’s an experience unlike anything you will ever have elsewhere. Scuba diving here is prohibited as the bubbles from scuba regulators tend to collect beneath the bell of the jellyfish, harming them. Wearing fins too is not allowed as a simple fin blade could slice the fragile jellyfish in two with little effort. Another reason for the ban on Scuba diving here is that the bottom portion of the 30 m (100 ft) lake has a giant layer of hydrogen sulfide.
A refreshing experience to anyone who has the privilege of visiting beautiful Palau, the Jellyfish lake is guaranteed to be one of the most astounding moments of your life. Snorkeling in the Jellysfish Lake is a must-do for any water lover!!