For many years, one of my dreams was to snorkel with the stingless golden jellyfish in Palau‘s famous Jellyfish Lake. In December 2019, I was able to experience this unbelievable underwater photography destination during my visit to this tiny island nation. Jellyfish Lake is connected to the ocean through fissures and tunnels in the limestone, but the jellyfish have been isolated for so long that they have lost their stinging tentacles compared to their ocean cousins. Millions of jellies migrate around the lake each day chasing the sunlight so that the symbiotic algae that live in their tissues can produce nutrition to sustain them.
Most tourists only visit the lake for an hour during a day-long boating tour. I knew this would be an inadequate amount of time for me to create an image that I would be proud of. In order to optimize my photographic opportunities, my buddy and I camped for 4 nights on a tiny island that was only 2 miles from the lake so that we could kayak back and forth at our leisure. I spent up to 4 hours at a time blissfully swimming among the jellies and learned where they liked to congregate at certain times of day based on the position of the sun. One of their favorite hangout spots was in the late afternoon as some trees on the side of the cliff began to cast long shadows into the water. They treated the shade like a fence by bunching up against the darker water on the sunny side. I also found the shade created a mysterious background to my photos as they all clumped together. This is one of my favorite images. I especially like how their bells are backlit and the closest ones are pulsating in the same direction.