snorkeling in Jellyfish lake, Palau

Jellyfish Lake

What do golden jellyfish, sunflowers, and tan-seeking beach goers have in common? They all follow the sun.

Take for example, a marine lake on Eil Malk Island in Palau, where millions of teacup-sized jellies glide through the water on a calculated course. Their journey isn’t aimless, but rather, necessary for survival.

As the sun arcs across the sky, the sun-bathing jellies relocate, starting in the east and moving west as the day progresses. Working in tandem with the jellies are tiny organisms that live on the jellyfish called zooxanthellae. They photosynthesize, turning sunlight into nutrients and providing energy and food for both the jellyfish and zooxanthellae. A strategic partnership for sure.

Aptly named Jellyfish Lake, this 12-acre body of saltwater is the result of rising sea levels during the Ice Age that created a path for ocean jellies to move into the lake. Centuries went by and water levels went down leaving the jellyfish  isolated from the ocean and without many predators. Soon their population boomed.

Though they’re the top dog in the water, these jellies don’t sting swimmers. In fact, each day hundreds of tourists descend on the fluorescent green, warm waters to swim with the surreal jellyfish –– blobs ranging in size from tangerines to watermelons. We haven’t packed our bags yet, but Jellyfish Lake is definitely on our must-do, must-see, must-swim list. 

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