In the diving haven of Palau, Jellyfish Lake – famed for the bright hues of its resident marine life – is now open. The endemic Golden Mastigias are known to be generally harmless and pull in regular visitors on Mecherchar Island in Palau’s Rock Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Known locally as Ongeim’l Tketau, the lake has had to contend with the rising temperatures of a lingering El Nino phase affecting the jellyfish population and has been closed several times to sustain numbers. The population is expected to improve next year as temperatures decrease.
“On a brighter note, close monitoring of the Jellyfish Lake highlights the continued presence of an adult population of Moon jellyfish, which are not affected by the current warm temperatures and are seemingly showing more resilience in the face of current conditions,” authorities from the Koror State Government said.
“Snorkelers have continued to enjoy the presence of the majestic Moon Jellies in the absence of the normal large population of the golden Mastigias jellyfish in recent months, and the lake continues to be a memorable experience for visitors to the Koror State Rock Islands Southern Lagoon. It remains open to visitors, highlighting the Moon jellies as we continue to closely monitor for the return of the golden Mastigias jellyfish to its normal population.”
Over 200 limestone and volcanic islands make up Palau, and amid the popularity of its picturesque diving destinations and rich biodiversity, the government’s take on conscious tourism has seen pioneering efforts to safeguard its natural environment for future generations.
In 2017, the country became the first in the world to update immigration policies and arrival procedures for its Palau Pledge, which is stamped into the passports of inbound visitors and compels them to be environmentally responsible during their stay in Palau. To date, over 728,000 pledges have been taken.
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In 2020, the country banned sunscreen known to be reef-toxic, and in April this year, Ol’au Palau took off as a new model that rewards visitors for measures they take to protect and preserve the environment.
Through this tourism value exchange, visitors can accumulate points for demonstrating responsible and regenerative behavior during their visit and utilise the points to access unique experiences.
These prized experiences are barred to those who either don’t participate or don’t accumulate enough points.