Behind the Lens – Jellyfish Lake in Palau

Posted: July 25, 2013    Categories: Palau, Travel Photography

jellyfish lake palau

One of the most incredible things I’ve ever done is gone swimming with jellyfish in Palau.

Palau is a small island country of approximately 20,000 people in the Pacific Ocean, east of the Philippines and north of Indonesia. It is also home to, what I believe, is the greatest diving in the world.

The most unique feature of Palau however, doesn’t require any SCUBA gear to experience: the jellyfish lake.

The southern half of the country is a large lagoon made up to dozens of small limestone islands. Inside a few of those islands are depressions which are filled in seawater to create lakes. The lakes are fed through small cracks in the limestone which are big enough for jellyfish larve to get through but not fish.

As a result, the lakes are natural havens for jellyfish. They are able to live free of predators and float across the lake every day soaking up sun to feed their symbiotic internal algae known as zooxanthellae. Because they have no predators, the jellyfish in the lakes have evolved away their stingers making them safe to swim with.

I didn’t (and still don’t) have an underwater camera, so I rented one for the day from the dive shop and used their underwater housing. I swapped in my memory card just so I had more space and could take video. The underwater shots from Palau are the only images you’ll find in my photo collection that weren’t taken with one of my cameras.

The jellyfish are all near the surface of the lake. There is no need to dive down more than 1m and you can capture some great shots while breathing through a snorkel. I would love to go back and spend a day with a proper camera photographing the jellyfish.

Even though I last visited over 6 years ago, swimming with the jellyfish remains one of my favorite experiences. There is nothing else quite like it in the world.

Photo Information
Camera: Canon Powershot S60
Focal Length: 34mm
Aperture: f/2.8
Exposure: 1/125 sec.

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