November 4, 2019 • News Announcements
Jellyfish Lake is home to a unique subspecies of golden jellyfish, Mastigias papua etpisoni. © Wayne Sentman
Palau’s famous Ongeim’l Tketau, or Jellyfish Lake, on Mecherchar Island is a saltwater lake known worldwide for its profusion of bright orange, harmless, and beautiful jellyfish. Named for its inhabitants, Jellyfish Lake is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best places in the world to enjoy the otherworldly experience of swimming amongst a sea of frilly jellies.
“Fluorescent green, the lake is home to millions of jellyfish that do not sting. They were pulsating orange blobs, and ranged in size from Ping-Pong balls to bowling balls.” – Ian Urbina, The Outlaw Ocean, on Palau’s famous Jellyfish Lake.
Oceanic Society board member, Dr. Sylvia Earle, founder of Mission Blue, snorkels in Jellyfish Lake during a joint expedition with Oceanic Society and Mission Blue in Palau. © Kip Evans / Mission Blue
There are seventy marine lakes within the Palau archipelago, and only five that contain jellyfish. Of these five, Jellyfish Lake is the only one open to visitors. Palau has taken strides to ensure the protection and longevity of the jellyfish and the unique experience of swimming with them. For example, diving is prohibited in Jellyfish Lake in order to prevent mixing the two stratified layers within the lake. The top layer is less saline, which makes it ideal for the jellies and other wildlife like fish and plankton. The lower layer, on the other hand, contains dangerous levels of hydrogen sulfide, which can be toxic to both humans and wildlife.
While the jellyfish in Jellyfish Lake haven’t completely lost their stinging ability, their stings are too light for humans to feel. © Sean Robertson
Beyond the ban on diving, visitors to Jellyfish Lake must wear environmentally friendly sunscreen that has been applied at least 30 minutes before entering the water. Visitors are also encouraged to sign the Palau pledge, a promise to protect and preserve Palau’s natural beauty, cultural heritage, and environment.
A once in a lifetime adventure, Jellyfish Lake should be on any snorkel enthusiasts bucket list. The unique experience is one of many on our Palau: Snorkeling the Rock Islands expedition, with trip dates available multiple times throughout the year. Don’t miss your chance to swim with these remarkable and endearing jellies!
Aerial view of Palau’s famous Jellyfish Lake. The jellyfish spend the day slowly making their way from one end of the lake to the other, following the path of the sun. The sunlight supports algae growth, food for the colorful jellies. ©Flickr user Lukas [CC BY 2.0]