Green, green, green all around me. Besides a few strands of dirt, I could hardly see anything in the dark, emerald water.
But I swam on, armed with nothing more than my snorkeling mask and fins, into the darkness. My group of friends had plunged in earlier, leaving me alone, slightly nervous in this jade green water world. “We saw a crocodile here last week,” said the park ranger, just before I dived in. That didn’t help.
I’d swum barely twenty meters before a beige-ish jellyfish appeared out of the blue. I examined it and smiled to myself.
Soon another jellyfish appeared, this time even bigger than before.
And then another showed up. And another.
All of a sudden, hundreds of translucent jellyfish surrounded me, pulsating unanimously in a hypnotic rhythm. I stayed still to observe the creatures as they bobbed gracefully up and down, their translucent skin glowing under the sunlight and their short curly tentacles dancing in the water. With slight hesitation, I stretched my hands out to touch them and was wildly surprised when one of them glided gently by my fingers, right into my cupped hands. Entranced by the graceful movements of the underwater ballerinas before me, I watched in bewilderment.
All of a sudden, hundreds of translucent jellyfish surrounded me, pulsating unanimously in a hypnotic rhythm.
Thankfully, these aren’t your average jellyfish — In Palau’s Jellyfish Lake, these jellyfish are miraculously ‘stingless’ and there are thousands of them who call this home. Scientists aren’t sure exactly how or from where the jellyfish arrived, but over the years, they have somehow evolved to lose most of their sting (probably due to lack of predators). Naturally, they are a very fragile species and they need to be protected on various levels to ensure their continued existence.
Fortunately the Palauan government is very serious about protecting Jellyfish Lake and its unique inhabitants. The Koror State Permit costs US$35 per person and the government has stipulated an additional green fee for all visitors of the country. There are even park rangers at the site to make sure that there’s no foul play.
With Palau’s eco-conscious approach to conservation, I’m confident Jellyfish Lake will stay this way for a long, long time. Meanwhile, get there soon because you never know when the jellyfish may decide to stop dancing.
A lonesome jellyfish bobs in a hypnotic rhythm
A jellyfish comes right up to the camera lens
Their short, curly tentacles dance in the water
More golden jellyfish beaming under the sunlight
That’s me, looking slightly afraid to hurting these fragile creatures
Michelle with a jellyfish in her cupped hands
There are literally thousands of them in the water…