When you think of jellyfish, do you immediately recoil at the thought of being stung? You wouldn’t be alone – after all, they do have a bit of a reputation.
How does the idea of snorkelling in your bathing suit in a lake filled with millions of the critters (like in our featured image by kozyndan) strike you?
We ask because you can do just that in the lake that dominates the small coral outcrop that is Eli Malk Island.
Eli Malk is part of a group of small, rocky, uninhabited islands that make up the Micronesian nation of the Republic of Palau, which incidentally is one of the newest and smallest countries in the world.Search Flights To Palau
The small pinkish-coloured jellyfish here have lived isolated from predators for thousands of years (some estimate 12,000) – the lake is only connected to the Pacific Ocean through a number of tiny fissures in the limestone reef. In the absence of any threat, this particular breed of jellyfish (golden jellyfish) has evolved without stings.
The chance to get up close and personal with so many jellyfish in such a confined space would be pretty spectacular experience in itself. But it’s made even more weird and wonderful by the fact the jellyfish migrate from one side of the lake to the other in unison over the course of each day – tracking the arc of the sun is in integral to their feeding (see the second video below).
Diving isn’t permitted here. Visitors are asked to snorkel gently, causing as little disturbance to the fragile creatures as possible.
While the jellyfish provide no harm to humans, snorkellers should be aware that dangerous levels of hydrogen sulphide are found in the lower depths of the water (snorkelling near the surface is perfectly fine).
This beautifully shot video gives you a sense of what it’s like to snorkel in the lake.
Here’s a clip from a BBC natural history programme, which explains how the jellyfish feed.
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