There is something magical about floating alongside thousands of translucent, soft-bodied jellyfish. If you adventure to Jellyfish Lake, a marine lake secluded in a pocket of Eil Malk Island in Palau, you can do just that.
The lake, which was once connected to the ocean, provides the perfect environment for the golden jellyfish, Mastigias, and moon jellyfish, Aurelia. By living in this special isolated environment, the species of jellyfish have developed very different behaviors, morphologies, and characteristics from those found in other marine lakes and lagoons. Videographer Zachery Steen took a dip in the famous Jellyfish Lake, and filmed the cauliflower-shaped peachy cnidarians as they bobbed and drifted.
But this serene paradise is at risk.
Scientists studying the lake report a drastic decline in the number of these gentle jellies. The lake is usually brimming with an average of eight million jellyfish, but the Coral Reef Research Foundation estimated about 600,000 as of March 2016. The reason behind the decrease in jellyfish in the lake is uncertain. Some scientists hope that the jellyfish population at Palau will make a comeback, while others fear that climate change may be permanently affecting the unique ecosystem of the saltwater lake, National Geographic reports.
“It’s difficult to tease out what is happening in the lake,” marine biologist David Gruber tells National Geographic. “Is it natural fluctuation or climate change? This highlights why we need long-term monitoring of places, so we can understand these systems more.”
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