Jellyfish Lake

Photo of golden jellyfish in Jellyfish Lake, Palau. Photo taken by Dr. Alex Mustard, and more can be found on his website

I’m going to take a brief interlude to talk about something different. Don’t worry though I have a reason for this!

Several archipelagos dot the Pacific Ocean, but today I’m going to talk about one in particular. The Republic of Palau is made up of several hundred islands that are populated by a people who have been shaped by the sea and nature. There are so many cool islands to choose from, I bet you could easily spend a few years there and still not see everything. Today, though, we’re going to focus on a unique lake found in the Rock Islands of Palau, Jellyfish Lake.

Jellyfish Lake is a brackish marine lake that is located near the sea. The lake is fed by rainwater, but it isn’t considered a fresh water lake because it’s a bit saltier than freshwater, although it doesn’t match the salinity of the nearby ocean. Jellyfish Lake is also largely isolated from the ocean, so where does the salt water come from?

One of the unique things about this lake is that they’ve found tunnels and fissures in the surrounding limestone that actually connect the lake to the ocean, and that’s where the salt comes from. However, another unique thing about this lake is that unlike other tropical lakes there’s no circulation movement of water.
In other words, the lake has no current and the wind only affects the surface water, so the lake has developed distinct layers making this a meromictic lake. As cool as that sounds, the coolest thing about the lake is how it got its name.

Jellyfish Lake is home to the nonstinging Golden Jellyfish, which can’t be found anywhere else in the world! The main attraction to this place is the sheer number of jellyfish that you can find in the lake–at least over a million of little animals to safely swim with!

The biggest reason I wanted to talk about this lake is because I want to visit it myself. For a while, Palau officials closed the lake to tourism due to a drastic drop in the Golden Jellyfish numbers, so they wanted to run studies and try to help the jellyfish population.

Now, the numbers are back at healthy levels and they have reopened the lake to visitors. So grab your fins, snorkel, and mask and go have a relaxing swim with these harmless jellyfish and experience a world unlike any other—I know I’m going to!

Read more about jellyfish and Jellyfish Lake here: