JellyFish Facts

Palau Jellyfish Lake

Palau Jellyfish Lake picture

Palau Jellyfish Lake

The Palau Jellyfish Lake is one of seventy similar saltwater lakes which are found in the Pacific Island of Palau. This is a well known dive site which is called Ongeim'l Tketau by the locals which is a twelve acre pocket of sea water. It contains over ten million jellyfish that have descended and evolved from the spotted jellyfish. Although is used to have an outlet to the ocean it is now completely isolated. When the outlet closed off the jellyfish population was also isolated and they started to feed on reproducing algae. Although there are small stinging cells in this Jellyfish Lake it's so small that it's not detectable on human tissue. So the tourist can enjoy close encounters with the jellyfish which would not be possible anywhere else.

These lakes are tiny seas that are hidden away by the dry land which is differentiated by the sea. Five of these lakes contain unique jellyfish which vary from each of the neighboring lakes and their common ancestor the spotted jellyfish.

The spotted jellyfish are cnidarians, which is a scientific grouping that includes reef-building corals. They drift in Palau's lagoon consuming the occasion zooplankton (tiny invertebrates the float freely throughout the seas) with their nettles.

The first marine lake in Palau was formed about 12,000-15,000 years ago after the last ice age ended and the sea levels rose. The Palau rock islands were limestone peaks riddled with erosion-carved channels, fissures and depressions. The seawater gliding though the limestone swept in a large number of spotted jellyfish and other sea creatures turning the largest depression into marine lakes.

These jellyfish then developed into five different sub-species each accustomed to its own isolated island of seawater. The oldest jellyfish who inherited the most from their ancestors are in the deepest lakes which were filled first.

The migration in the lake is most spectacular. They move eastward towards the rising sun in the mornings, but are careful not to go too far since there are jellyfish eating anemones in the lakeshores. They have adapted migratory patterns that are unique to each of the marine lakes and balance the time in the sun mostly to benefit their algae and to avoid predators. To the delight of the snorkeling tourists by mid morning the jellies reverse their course and travel in unison till they reach the shade. And by mid afternoon they gather around in breath taking numbers near the western shadow line.

At night the jellyfish descend into a layer of hydrogen sulfide which is found below 15-20m of the lake. And they keep popping up and down from surface to the bacterial layer every night. To reduce the risk of hydrogen sulfide poisoning and avoid disturbing the jellyfish SCUBA diving in this lake is prohibited.

The biggest problem that the lake faces is the pollution by the large number of tourists that visit the lake to go diving. Especially since unlike the others of their kind the Palau's jellyfish allow the visitors to be close to them bouncing off their arms and legs as they swim and brush against their body.

Learn more about Jellyfish, different Jellyfish Species, general Jellyfish Information, Jellyfish Pets and Jellyfish Safety

Written by and Sudarsana Sinha.

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