Once again, we woke up before the alarm. Justin had slept well, but Crystal had trouble because of sunburns and ear issues. We put on suntan lotion, grabbed breakfast, and at breakfast discussed what was now our "usual" routine. In line with that, there was confusion again at the pickup, this time with a van picking us up while we were waiting for a boat at the pier. At Sam's, we saw on the board that we were with Stefan and Torsten - Manny had gotten the day off (he told us the day before he had been working 14 straight days). The composition of our boat was nearly the same as the day before, save for having different divemasters.

It was very sunny again, and we hoped that would stick. The jellyfish in Jellyfish Lake are attracted to the sun, so when it is cloudy outside, they are more spread out and more difficulto to find. Our first stop was at Jellyfish Lake. For the first time we had a different route, as Jellyfish Lake is much further east than the Ngemelis area, where we had dived the previous 3 times. The scenery was equally nice on the eastern part of the rock islands as on the west.

There was a dock in a bay on the island containing Jellyfish Lake, so getting off the boat was easy. One lady didn't join us, because she wanted to go with her friend, who was sick today. Stefan told us that everyone was required to wear a life vest, no matter what - a number of people were irked, because they wanted to be able to free dive with the jellyfish. It was implicit, though, that life vests can accidentally fall off for a minute or two around the jellyfish. There were steep steps heading up from the bay into the jungle, over a hilltop, and then down to the lake.

The lake is relatively new, only about 12,000 years old. About 12,000 years ago, rising sea levels got to the point where sea water began to fill the Jellyfish Lake basin. The lake is connected to the ocean via three tunnels that lie near the surface level. Water fluctuates in and out of the lake with the changes in the tides. But because not all of the water goes in and out, with rainfall the lake is not quite as saline as the ocean water.

Also, the lake is meromitic, meaning that the water on the top of the lake never mixes with water on the bottom. Because the lake is surrounded on all sides by walls of jungle, there is little wind that would churn up the water and cause mixing. And because it is so close to the equator, there is no temperature variations that would cause mixing, either. In Jellyfish Lake, this means there is no oxygen once you get about 50 feet deep, and the bottom of the lake is full of carbon dioxide that is trapped. Similar lakes in Africa (Monoun and Nyos) caused massive deaths when landslides or earthquakes caused the CO2 to quickly rise to the surface, suffocating nearby people and animals. We hoped there would be no earthquakes during our hour in the area.

From the lake's dock - which was black plastic and scorching hot - we had to swim to the other side (the east), where the jellyfish congregate in the morning (because of the sun). Just as Stefan had indicated, we at first ones and twos, then dozens, then hundreds, and by the time we got to the other side, millions. Once there, we took off our life vests to get better photos and to free dive a bit. We tried our best to get photos and videos, but it was difficult because of so many. [In hindsight, we should have dived down and then aimed the camera up towards the surface, so you could see the sun in the middle of the shot - oh well.] It was difficult to purposely empty our lungs to easily go down below the surface, and it was also a little awkward to hold our breath since during diving the main rule is to always be breathing.

As we had read and heard pretty much everywhere, the lake was unlike anything else we'd done anywhere on the planet. The lake was chock full of jellyfish, it was completely quiet, the water was completely still, and the jellyfish felt like jello and were constantly brushing up against us. We hung out for about 40-45 minutes, then we had to swim back across the lake. The swim across the lake was probably 5-7 minutes if we had to guess. On the swim back we could tell we were getting burned - again. Just as we were leaving the dock to walk back to the boat, there were scores of Chinese tourists coming in, and so the steps were crowded.

Back on the boat, it was a 30 minute ride to the Ulong area. When we got there and were trying to tie up, a Chinese guy just hopped into the water (presumably to pee) - Stefan and Torsten weren't too happy about that. Thankfully no one was injured. Our first dive was Siaes Tunnel. Stefan told us that we would drop down to 90+ feet, proceed through tunnel, then come out other side. Justin's underwater camera was rated to only 85 feet, so he took the card (containing all of the jellyfish lake photos) out of the camera and put a new card in the underwater camera, just to be safe. On the dive, there was lots of cool coral at the end of tunnel. It was tough to tell what color everything was, as down that far, most color was gone - everything just looked blue. We came up slowly along the wall, then proceeded to slowly ascend the wall. The camera actually made it, so that was good. There were lots of fish and interesting coral, plus a couple sharks too.

Crystal saw a turtle, a rainbow-colored fish (probably a wrasse or parrot fish) on her snorkel. Two aussies were snorkeling as well, but contrary to the boat captain's instructions, they kept swimming into the shallows, where of course the boat could not go if someone needed to pick them up. We had lunch on the boat again, although since we had the first stop at Jellyfish Lake, it was much later today. Half the boat smoking at lunch, which we thought didn't seem like it would fit well with diving, but whatever. Getting ready for the second dive, Justin forgot to turn on the air to his tank, and he was already geared up and unable to change on his own. He asked Crystal to turn on his tank, and had the thought "that'd be something if it exploded and killed me." And then, as she turned on the tank - POP! An O-ring failed. So they had to change Justin's gear before he got in the water.

The afternoon dive was at Siaes Corner (no aerial shots, unfortunately, it was on the wrong side of the plane and we were looking out at Ulong anyway). The topography was somewhat similar to Blue Corner. We descended where we came out of the water on the first dive. We went down the wall, and along the wall until it reached the corner, at which point we hooked in. Stefan thankfully helped Justin hook in, as the current was pretty stiff, much stronger than Blue Corner. Because of the current, there was lots of sediment, and it was not especially clear. But on the plus side, there were tons and tons of sharks, probably 30+. [In the last of the videos, you can see 12-15 just in one shot.] Incredibly, the sharks just hovered there, impervious to the current.

Justin had to do a decompression stop on the way up, as he had been too fixated on the sharks and didn't realize he'd spent too much time at the depths. [As Torsten explained it on the way back, too much time at great depths builds up Nitrogen in the body, and the decompression stop is a "penalty" that the dive computer puts on you to get the nitrogen level back down. Justin analogized it to needing extra glasses of water after too many drinks - Torsten liked the analogy.] All told, Justin still managed an hour on the dive, the longest descent so far. The ride back from Ulong to Koror was nice, but a little bumpy. There was no rain today, our first. It would have been a great day for the aerial tour, but oh well. Torsten told us it was unseasonably wet for this time of year, and in fact it had been much wetter the week before, so after hearing that, we felt better.

We had a drink at Sam's after we got back. Crystal got her itinerary for the next day changed to a kayak tour, since many of the dive sites did not have any snorkeling above, and she didn't want to just sit on the dive boats. We asked Torsten where he was from, guessing Australia or Germany or Scandanavia - nope, New Guinea. That would have been guess number 147. Torsten saw who was on the list for his boat the next day, and tried to get everyone on the next day's boat to agree to early pick up, so that we could do the Ulong Channel before the current changed from incoming to outgoing. We weren't sure if it would work, but we didn't mind the early pickup.

Back at the hotel, we got cleaned up for a 6pm Beach BBQ that we had arranged the night before. We got there around 6:15 or so, expecting it to be pretty full, but it was just us and one other table. To our surprise, we had to cook our own food, but it wasn't that bad (if we'd had a bunch of drinks prior to dinner, it would have been more of a problem). Halfway through dinner, we got a show from teenage kids with traditional Palauan dance. While all this was going on, there was an Asian lady walking around the beach having glamour shots taken in various odd poses, including her holding a torch. For some reason, this really bugged Crystal. Justin thought about tackling her into the water from the pier when she was standing on the edge, but decided against it. After dinner, we thought about going to see Torsten and his band at the Taj Restaurant in town, but we were too tired. For the first time, however, we did make it past 9pm before going to sleep.