The Golden Jellyfish of Jellyfish Lake

Updated May 25, 2019, originally posted on May 23, 2011

There are unique golden jellyfish in Jellyfish Lake. The lake is located on Eli Malk island in the Republic of Palau. The jellyfish developed into a unique species after being trapped in the natural basin when the ocean receded over 12,000 years ago.

The jellyfish have a symbiotic relationship with algae that live inside them. During the day the jellyfish make trips to the surface of the lake, presumably so the algae living inside them can use photosynthesis to feed. Jacob says the algae create a sugar that feeds the jellyfish.

The jellyfish are harmless to people, except for people with very sensitive skin, who may get a minor skin irritation. The jellyfish do not have stinging cells. They are a subspecies of the spotted jellyfish (Mastigias papua)).

ABC News chief meteorologist Ginger Zee went on a journey to the lake for Nightline. She says in her report, It was interesting too, the bigger jellies hang with the other bigger jellies, the babies are all together on the outside. Grouping by size. People keep asking what it felt like -- it felt like swimming through opened cups of weird!"

Here is a video of her trip and her swimming with the golden jellies.

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