These marine animals are not exactly palatable and more than one of us retains a painful memory of some encounter with them. For that reason, it is impressive to see how there are those who swim among jellyfish, as happens in the lake of Jellyfish in the Palau Islands.
But this unusual bathroom is not as dangerous as it seems. Although not everyone would dare to immerse themselves in these waters of Micronesia, in this unique lake, located on one of the Rock Islands, Eil Malk.
On this rocky, small and uninhabited island, the Lake of the Jellyfish (Ongeim’l Tketau in Palauan language) is completely isolated from the ocean today, but in the past, thousands of years ago, they were connected. When the exit to open waters disappeared, the population of jellyfish that was isolated in the lake began to feed on native algae and grow.
The jellyfish of the lake has, like all jellyfish, urticating cells (nematocysts), but these are so small that they do not go through human skin. That’s the reason we can see swimmers among jellyfish, so quiet, even the least apprehensive get to touch without noticing the effects of sting.
So it is not that they do not have “poison”, but that it can not affect people. Two species of jellyfish inhabit the famous and picturesque Lake of the Jellyfish: Mastigias Papua Pisoni (golden jellyfish, the most common) and Aurelia aurita.
In the lake only surface diving is allowed: the deep one is forbidden so as not to disturb the jellyfish, which descend to a layer of hydrogen sulphide that is about 15-20 meters deep, and to reduce the risk of Sulfur poisoning.
But above all to protect the ecosystem of the lake, which has been seriously damaged in recent years and requires special care to avoid the disappearance of its most striking inhabitants, the jellyfish.
In fact, those who want to bathe with jellyfish nowadays have to follow some rules in order not to introduce sand into the lake or to use sunscreens that damage the waters (whose chemical agents are the main cause of the population decline of jellyfish in the lake).
In 2012, the protection area of the Jellyfish Lagoon has declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is estimated that then they populated the waters of the lake, which are still salty due to leaks with the ocean, some 13 million jellyfish, although more recently there has been a sharp decline in population due to climate change and water pollution.
For this reason, for the visitors, the Republic of Palau has decided that, yes, it is a bath, but on the surface, controlled, and without putting the quality of the waters at risk, which is beginning to recover. Because a treasure like this has to be protected.
It is good to know that these jellyfish are harmless, and if we observe them in their silent and harmonic swimming, they are even relaxing. But I do not know if I would dare to submerge between them and never without a good neoprene. Would you give yourself a swim among these gelatinous animals in the lake of Jellyfish?