Apart from sharks the one sea creature that strikes fear in our hearts is the stinging jellyfish with those dreaded tentacles that stings like you wont believe. On the shores of western world, jellyfish has been known to spoil more than few of the vacations. They lurk in water and if they as mush as swipe past you, you are done for mate.
So why would someone willingly dive into a lake full of this monsters ? They may look fluffy and essentially harmless but we know better right ? What if you get to dive in with the jellyfishes sans the poisons touch? Now that is a fine deal right. Mother nature has made this possible by her own accord. Read along and find a way to swim in this tamed down version of deadly jellyfishes. It is as close as you can get to a real one without well, dying!
Around 12,000 years old is this marine lake located on Eil Malk island in Palau named ‘Jellyfish Lake’, also known as Ongen’l Tketau by the locals. Eil Malk is a part of the Rock island , a group of small, rocky, mostly unoccupied islands in Palau’s Southern Lagoon, between Koror and Peleliu. There are about 70 other marine lakes located at the Rock Islands. Jellyfish Lake is one of Palau’s most famous dive sites amongst the adventurers. The fun of diving combined with the presence of the fishes tips the scale for the adrenaline junkies.
Jellyfish Lake in Palau gets its name from the millions of jellyfish that migrate across the lake everyday. These are unique because they have lost their sting which means they are completely safe to swim with. Jellyfish Lake used to be connected to the ocean but, over the years, is cut off from the ocean, making it a unique habitat for the wildlife that resides around it. This natural phenomenon helped us to study and analyse the creatures in a very extensive manner. Scientists assume that, after the Ice Age, Jellyfish Lake became isolated, hence trapped in the jellyfishes living in the water, therefore making it their habitat.
How to get to the Jellyfish Lake?
Take a flight to Palau, and then make your way to the Eil Malk. The lake is accessed by a short track from the beach on Eil Malk to the lake. Once you are on the island, you can find a local guide who can help you get your way to the lake. You then will have to hike a bit, in order to get to your destination. So this is a physical test before you can enjoy diving into the warm water of the lake to hangout with the jellyfishes within it. Though the hike is a short one but the steep areas on the way can be challenging, but the final result is going to be worthwhile. Like the pain before the gain, it is the best lead-up to the wonder.
What would you find in this lake?
You will mainly find two kinds of species in this lake, moon jellyfish ( Aurelia sp.) and the golden jellyfish ( Mastigias sp.). Golden Jellyfish is closely related to the spotted jellyfish that dwell in the nearby lagoons. These migrate to the surface to provide revelation to the sun for symbiotic algae in their bodies. While Moon Jellyfish, migrate to the surface at the night most likely to feed on the copepods. You will also come across cardinal fish, Silversides, Gobies and the jellyfish’s only predators, anemones. But Jellyfish are going to be the most commonly seen mammal.
Tourism at the Lake: ( money and more )
Jellyfish Lake is at present the only one of Palau’s marine lakes open to tourists. Tourists are required to obtain a pass to access Jellyfish Lake. The Rock Islands/Jellyfish Lake pass is $100 and is good for 10 days. While scuba diving at the lake is not allowed due to some safety considerations for both the jellyfish and humans. Jellyfishes are very fragile creatures and hence the bubbles from the oxygen tank pose serious threats to them. Thus light activity like snorkeling and swimming are allowed here. they account for the most popular tourists to Palau. Any trip to Palau will include a visit to the Ongen’l Tketau, also snorkeling with millions of non-stinging jellyfish is a very cool experience and one that shouldn’t be missed.
The sight is gorgeous with soft golden fishes swimming to the top in the morning sun to catch some sun. At night the migrate to the bottom of the lake. the locals say if you can spot 1000 jellyfishes, you should go deeper, 10,000 still deeper, 100,000 keep going and when you see 1,000,000 you are there. When you enter the place, you will be greeted by a plain deck to pop your shoes on. On first sight if you can see a single fish, you are lucky!. Do not be disappointed for with every swim you will see the population explode exponentially. Finally you will be surrounded by the fishes completely. The first feel of the fish on your limbs may topple you into sweet panic but as the in-habitations fade away you will swear by the beauty of it all!