Ever wonder what it would be like to swim with jellyfish? Travel and adventure photographer Kien Lam fulfilled this fantasy by flying across the globe to Jellyfish Lake in Micronesia. Anyone who has been stung by a jellyfish can attest—it’s not a pleasant experience. But Jellyfish Lake in Palau is filled with millions of jellyfish that have evolved in a way that makes it safe for humans to swim in the same waters.
This marine lake is an estimated 12,000 years old, with its waters largely isolated from the surrounding lagoon. Therefore, the present jellyfish remain free from predators, feeding off the lake’s algae. And while they have stingers, they are too small to be felt by humans.
Normally filled with tourists, Lam was luckily able to have the lake largely to himself for some incredible free diving—scuba diving is not allowed. Approaching the dock, the lake looks like any other, but a surprise awaits once a pack of jellyfish is located. The jellyfish migrate across the lake in regular patterns throughout the day, chasing the sun and their food source.
“From the surface, it looks like a gorgeous but otherwise normal lake complete with a walk up dock,” Lam tells us in an email. “It's when you jump in and swim towards wherever the swarm of jellyfish have migrated to that everything just becomes a bit more magical. I noticed most of the visitors were simply satisfied with popping their head down into the water to look at these glowing golden jellyfish. I wanted to be enveloped by them so I dove down as deep as I could each time (roughly 10-12 meters). Down there, it quickly gets dark and it becomes harder to distinguish between up and down. It could not have felt any more alien than in those few moments at that depth.”
On his blog, Where and Wander, Lam gives practical tips on how to visit Jellyfish Lake.
My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Kien Lam.