Jellyfish Lake, Palau

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Jellyfish lake is a wonderful and haunting place. It is a brackish (mix of salt and fresh water) inland lake with an extremely deep bottom in the hundreds of feet deep. It is connected to the ocean via subterranean limestone caverns that perforate the islands of Palau. The water below 50 feet or so is uninhabitable because of high toxin levels created by the high nitrate composting action of the mangrove organics on the bottom. The temperature is about 90 degrees at the surface but actually gets hotter the deeper you go. We hiked in with our snorkeling gear and swam out toward the center of the lake where the jellyfish congregate in the sunlight, away from the shady tree-lined edges. Free diving down to about 35 feet for photos it was intensely hot, maybe 110 degrees, and very dark because of medium low visibility. That is as far as I would venture to go.

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These jellyfish have no stinging abilities because here they have no predators or prey. Sometimes they were so dense they would be bouncing off of us and we had to be careful not to damage their soft bodies. They Migrate to the surface during the day to give light to the algae inside their bodies and back down into the fertile depths at night to feed the algae, which in turn feed the jellies. Self sustained undulating space ships! Its a kind of internal algae farming. Learning from this invention of nature could surely teach us how to create our own sustainable living processes.

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The hardest part about swimming in the saltwater lakes of Palau was the fear of saltwater crocodiles. Huge and aggressive although rare. The thought of them was ever present in the back of my mind.

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