Dare to Swim with Jellyfish?
Imagine while you play in the calm waters of a lake on an island in the Pacific you suddenly see drifting toward you a single jellyfish. Then you see another jellyfish, and another, and another until you realize that you are swimming through a field of jellyfish. It sounds like a strange dream, right?
Actually, if this swimming adventure is taking place in a small body of water on the island of Palau off the eastern coast of the Philippines it is likely that you’ve stumbled onto Jellyfish Lake. Tourists frequently plunge into these waters for the chance to swim with its 8 million jellyfish inhabitants. What’s the best part about this animal encounter?
These jellyfish won’t sting you.
The thriving population of jellyfish has lost their defense system of stinging because no major predators exist in the lake. They share the water with sea cucumbers, sea anemones, crustaceans, clams, and snakes, but the lake does not host the usual predators of jelly fish like sharks, sea turtles, and other varieties of fish. The jellyfish in this lake live off of algae that live within their cells. In order to maintain the algae within their body the jellyfish swim from one side of the lake to the other twice a day. At night the jellyfish sink to a depth that is rich in nitrogen to also sustain the algae.
The lake is believed to have originated from a drop in sea level that caused an area that was once connected to the Pacific Ocean to be trapped on land. The jelly fish that became stuck in the lake have since multiplied to reach the incredible numbers that exist today. Tourists enjoy swimming in the lake that is surrounded by a dense layer of mangroves and tropical plant life that gives each person the full experience of being totally submerged in nature.