25 Apr 2016

Jellyfish Lake of Palau - Wonder of the Nature

Swimming in the jellyfish lake


Amazing Jellyfish Lake in an Island of Palau


The Jellyfish Lake, pride of Palau, is one of the marvels of the nature. It is a lake surrounded by tropical trees in a tiny, rocky island. You can hear the sound of pacific nearby. If you take a breath, you can feel the scent of the ocean here. But still the lake will look like a big pond. You will not notice that it is actually connected with the ocean. It is a “marine lake”, not a true freshwater lake. The age of the lake is only about 12000 years. It is created due to the rise of the water level of the Pacific ocean after the end of the last ice age.


Location

 

palau jellyfish lake

I know most of you will not find Palau in a map. Nothing to be ashamed people, Palau is not a large or famous country. It is actually a group of islands in the Western Pacific with a total population of only 21000. That little population is spread over 250 islands.


The Jellyfish Lake is situated in a small island named Eil Mulk or Mecherchar. There is no indigenous population here. You can only see the tourists and government officials to guide them and protect the lake here. There are 10 lakes in the island. Jellyfish Lake is the largest among these.


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Golden Jellyfish

 


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The attraction of the lake is its blooms of Golden Jellyfishes. That species of jellies are unique here. These are very closely related to the white Spotted Jellyfish. But the color is totally different and there is no spot over their body.

Zooxanthellae, a single celled alga like thing lived in the tissues of the Golden Jellyfish. That alga can produce food by means of photosynthesis. Both the jelly and the alga live in symbiosis. The jelly gets food from it. But that is not sufficient and so they also eat zooplankton to get more nutrition.

 
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Jellyfish in a lake

To give the algae sufficient sunlight, the jellies follow the sun in the lake. They move during the day and night in a cyclic path. They also often go to the lower level of the lake to get some nitrogen substance.


Golden Jellyfish

There is also a species of Moon Jellyfish in the lake. The moon jellies are identified as Aurelia aurita. But according to some experts the species is a bit different, unique to the lagoons of Palau. They mainly eat copepods, a kind of very small crustaceans.



Stratification of the Lake.


The water of the jellyfish lake of Palau has two stratified layers. The upper layer is oxygenated and the lower layer has zero oxygen level. It is a meromictic lake where deep water does not mix with the upper water.


Stratification of the Jellyfish Lake

The upper layer of the lake’s water is greenish in color and not very clear. The visibility is about 5 m (16ft). The layer is oxygenated up to 5 ppm. The jellies, phytoplankton and some fishes live here. That layer is ends in the 15 m (45 ft) depth

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The lower anoxic layer (last 15 m of the lake’s water level) is totally different. There is a high concentration of Hydrogen sulfide in that level. There is also dissolved ammonia and phosphate in this water. It is crystal clear and totally lifeless. That layer is highly toxic to any living being.


Two layers are separated by a densely populated layer of bacteria. The bacteria are purple in color. It produces its own food via photosynthesis. The layer is so dense that it entirely blocks the sunlight to go to the anoxic layer. So, that layer remains in perpetual darkness.



Connection with the Sea

  Palau island


Jellyfish Lake of Palau is not a genuinely isolated lake. There are three tunnels at the surface level through which the sea water enters in it during the high tides. But the contact gets broken during the low tides. That exchange of water does not have any effect to the lower anaerobic level of the lake. The upper level of the lake water also contains rainwater runoffs. Due to it the salinity of the lake is a bit lower than the adjacent sea.



Swimming in the Lake

 

Swimming with jellyfish


Many tourists come to dive in the jellyfish lake. It is truly a memorable experience. If you dive into the lake you will come into the contact with hundreds of golden jellies swarming around you. Snorkeling is allowed here but Scuba diving is not.


Jellyfish lake snorkeling

The golden jellies have stings but these are too weak for humans. You will not feel a thing if you touch them. The stingers cells are too weak to break human skin. Still, it can cause problem to people with jellyfish allergy. 


Scuba diving is not allowed in the jellyfish lake of Palau because it is dangerous. If you go deeper you will reach the lower level. That level is highly toxic with high Hydrogen sulfide concentration. It will enter into human body in contact and the result will be certain death.


Read more to learn more about jellyfishes: -

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