MICRONESIA’S GOLDEN BOWL


Located in the island country of Palau, in Micronesia, Jellyfish Lake looks at first glance like just another tropical lagoon. Just below the surface, though, a natural wonder awaits millions of mastigias golden jellyfish or medusa dangling in the water like constellations of shining bulbs.

The jellyfish were swept in about 12,000 years ago when sea levels rose near the end of the ice age and flooded dry land. Jellyfish Lake is a marine lake, landlocked but connected to the ocean via underground limestone channels, and one of dozens in Palau’s Rock Islands. (Of the five marine lakes there that contain jellyfish, it is the only one open to visitors.)

It is commonly believed that over the years, these predator-avoiding jellyfish have lost their ability to sting. In fact, they do sting¡ªjust rarely strongly enough to be felt by humans. They are delicate enough to be destroyed by a careless snorkeler’s kick. Contrary to their namesake, these medusae aren’t exactly ugly¡ªespecially en masse, pulsing in clear blue waters.


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