LOCATION: West Papua
STORY: I’ve always had a fascination with jellyfish. Their rhythmic pulses propelling them aimlessly in three dimensions, their physical symmetry, their endless varieties, and their ability to colonize virtually any water ecosystem from fresh water lakes in North America to under the ice in Antarctica.
When jellies group together, it’s a combination of them responding to stimuli, and simply being pushed around by current. And this group (referred to as a “smack” of jellies) is the largest aggregation of moon jellies I’ve ever witnessed. I was snorkeling through a newly discovered jellyfish lake in Misool, West Papua, expecting to see more of the golden jellies, but due to the rapidly changing & dynamic ecosystem in a small, confined lake, the population of golden’s had plummeted, while the moons were exploding.
I dipped below the surface for an upward angle, shooting into the sun through dozens of moon jellies, who appeared to be falling from the sky. I’m often asked if I was wearing a wetsuit to protect from the stings, but I’m afraid I’m a slow learner. While a few stings from moons are barely noticeable, several thousand over half an hour will leave you feeling a bit…..exfoliated.