It is not as though the lake has come up in recent times. Actually, it stands testimony to the last ice age and is around 12,000 years old so that after the glaciers went back, these jellyfishes had nowhere to go after they came in when the seawater flooded the basin. Thereafter, they stayed back in the lake and evolved in a different fashion than their counterparts in the sea.
Till 2005, there were approximately 30 million jellyfish in this Jelly Fish Lake in Palau that dwindled very rapidly and by 2016, they were nearly wiped off. However, conservatory efforts since then has ensured that their number have swelled up to nearly seven million and are now growing at a healthy rate.
One of the foremost concerns of any swimmer will be the stinger bite of a jellyfish. That need not have to be worried in this case as the jellyfish of the lake aren’t stingers here! It is another evolutionary masterpiece that has made it possible for people to swim with them without any concern. Actually, these jellyfishes in this lake live on algae that are attached to their body.
Therefore, two times in a day, they have to traverse across the lake and whatever alga goes out can re-grow. Hence, the stingers of these creatures are not required to catch prey and so they can be said to be harmless.
One of the things to note here is that scuba diving is not allowed in the Jelly Fish Lake in Palau. It is basically due to two reasons – i If the bubbles coming out of scuba tanks deposit under the bells of the jellyfish, the creature can get harmed; and ii There is supposed to be a very high concentration of hydrogen sulphide at a depth of 15 meters below its surface. It can be absorbed by a diver’s skin and that can be fatal. However, even without scuba diving, the swim can be as enjoyable from one part of the lake to the other so that quite literally, a swimmer can swim with hordes of jellyfish without being stung by them.
The Eil Malk Island where this lake is situated is in a part of the Rock Islands of Palau. The island is at a distance of 45-minutes from the nearest city of Koror. A 10-day swimming pass for the lake can be procured for USD 100 or a day tour can be booked by paying USD 100 to 200 with an additional USD 100 for the permit. A day tour will ensure a swim in the lake clubbed with other activities like snorkelling or swimming at other locations. Tourists looking forward to visiting the jellyfish lake have to access the Palau International Airport from where cabs or taxis can be taken for reaching the destination.
While visiting and swimming in the lake, it is important to adhere to the local instructions that prohibit lifting jellyfish out of the water and conducting oneself hygienically. It is recommended to stay free of any sunscreen and not to use any fins to slow down one’s movement. A rash guard on a tour to Palau may be highly needed to get ample protection from the tropical sun. Similarly, a dry daypack can also come in handy not only for the journey to the Jellyfish Lake as it can also be helpful during the boat rides in Rock Islands.
Visiting the Jellyfish Lake in Palau can be a worthwhile experience so that one of the oldest places on the planet can also be visited through the tour.