by Derek Lazo
Class Rank: Senior
We had just finished our last dive of the trip feeling great. After a short boat ride, we arrived at the dock of Jellyfish Lake. We took the few minutes to put on our booties and started our short 10-minute hike through the limestone forest. Even though the hike was a short one, it was still a tad tricky: the hill was a 45-degree incline and we needed a rope to make it over the sharp limestone rocks. But after a few breaths and beads of sweat we arrived at our destination.
On the other side we saw the marine lake, green-blue and filled with jellies we couldn’t yet see. I put on my mask and snorkel and jumped in. We had heard about this mysterious lake before filled with photosynthetic jellyfish, but reading and looking at photos simply didn’t compare to what we saw. As I swam away from the dock on the lake, I cruised past jellyfish after jellyfish until I was completely surrounded by the gently pulsating creatures. They were in all sizes from as small as a quarter to as big as a grapefruit, and their translucent pink bells and kale like tentacles were absolutely mesmerizing. As delicate as they appeared they swam in an equal fashion: they maneuvered so gently that each stroke of my swim sent them twisting and turning in my wake.
So many were in the top 5 feet of the lake that I wondered how many were waiting below. I took a huge breath and free dove to about 15 feet. I swam a few feet at that depth and slowly came up watching the pink jellies surround me, methodically edging their bells toward the sun to catch its rays. As I surfaced I found my fellow classmates in a similar shock. We were blown away by the sheer number and gracefulness of the jellyfish. Unfortunately, the hour at the lake came by quicker than we expected and we had to stop playing with the jellies and snapping photos, and head back to the boat.
Although it sounds cliché, being surrounded by thousands of jellies made me realize the awesome power and beauty of nature. Seriously, though, one of the most amazing things I ever did.