While the island nation of Palau hosts some of the world’s most popular diving sites, one may have some apprehension about going snorkeling in a lake full of jellyfish. But for those who are brave enough, a dive in Eil Malk’s Jelly Fish Lake is an experience well worth taking.
Jelly Fish Lake is located on the island of Eil Malk or Mecherchar, part of the Rock Islands on the Republic of Palau. Eil Malk is roughly a 45-minute boat ride away from the state of Koror, and there are a number of tour operators on Koror that offer trips to Jelly Fish Lake. On Eil Malk, there is a short trail from the island’s beach that leads to the lake.
What to See There
Jelly Fish Lake is home to a couple of scyphoan jellyfish species, the Golden Jellyfish and the Moon Jellyfish. The jellyfish are unique in that they produce food from their own bodies, particularly the symbiotic Zooxanthella algae that live in their system, which produces food via photosynthesis. They also get part of their sustenance by preying on zooplankton. It should be noted that while these jellyfish do have stinging cells, their sting aren’t too harmful to human beings. Other than jellyfish, there are also 3 fish species on the lake, namely, the Cardinalfish, the Gobies, and the Silversides. Also present in the lake are Sea Snails and White Sea Anemone, which prey on passing jellyfish and gobies. Jelly Fish Lake is surrounded by mangroves and thick forests, which lend a somewhat mysterious ambience to the surroundings.
Linked to the ocean via tunnels and fissures in the ancient Miocene reef, Jelly Fish Lake is approximately 12,000 years old. The lake’s estimated age is based on its depth of around 30 meters, the sediment’s approximate thickness of no less than 20 meters, and the rise in sea level dating from the end of the ice age. At that time, the sea level rose to a point where seawater started to fill the lake’s basin.
Tourists are required to get a pass in order to gain access to Jelly Fish Lake. A Rock Islands/Jelly Fish Lake pass costs $35 dollars, and is valid for 10 days.
Jelly Fish Lake is a popular spot for snorkeling. However, scuba diving is not allowed on the lake. This is because bubbles from the scuba tanks can be harmful to the jellyfish if they accumulate beneath their bell. Also, there are high levels of hydrogen sulfide in the lake’s anoxic layer, which divers could absorb into their skin and might lead to death. Divers are also advised to make sure their equipment is clean before getting into the lake; to move gently, slowly and silently in the water; wear fins to give them better control of their movements so as not to injure the jellyfish; refrain from lifting jellyfish from the water, as they are very delicate; stay away from the lake’s edges, so as not to stir up the sediments; avoid urinating in the lake; and, naturally, do not leave any trash in the environment.