As one epic natural disaster takes place in wildfire-ravaged Fort McMurray, Alberta, another one is being faced on the Micronesian island of Palau. Where I visited in late March. Where I snorkled at Jellyfish Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Where the jellyfish have now practically disappeared.
Frankly, I was disappointed by the visit. I’d seen photos of a lake teeming with jellyfish. Twas not what I saw.
We needed to swim for about 10 minutes before we arrived at a section of the lake where jellyfish could be found. When we got there, I couldn’t help but wonder if this is all there was. Yes, there were jellyfish, but not in the quantity I was expecting. It appears the numbers have dropped again since I was there – roughly six weeks ago.
We arrived early in the morning. Four of us had the lake to ourselves. When we left, dozens of tourists were arriving for what would be hundreds of snokeller visits that day.
Scientists are blaming the phenomenon on global warming for the drought and high temperatures Palauans have endured of late.
I hope other dive shops will follow suit and cease their lake visits, at least for the time being. Each individual visit brings roughly $100 USD into the local economy in permit and transportation fees. It’s a blow for the economy for sure. But, this tourism-dependent island will be worse off in the long run, methinks, if the jellyfish stocks aren’t given time to rebound.