Jellyfish School


Many by now have read or seen footage on television of Ongeim’l Tketau, the Jellyfish Lake in the archipelago of Palau. This small body of saltwater is home to millions of spotted jellyfish which, cut off from the sea and unthreatened by predators, have evolved nematocysts that are too small to produce anything but the lightest sting, more of a tickle or a tingle, when they come in contact with human skin. It’s possible to swim among these pulsating, neutralized jollyfish and even hold a pair, one in each palm, without concern, something that would be uncomfortably nettling or even fatal among their more toxic pelagic relatives.

I imagine other such possible lakes, or cut-off pools, or islands, for each of the planet’s more intimidating species. Any animal, isolated from either its predator or prey, would presumably evolve into a harmless version of itself, and it’s nice to think of slipping, for example, into Crocodile Lake, or Mountain Lion Valley, and gamboling as well as petting there.

Finally, given that this island Earth is a habitat in itself, and we are in fact the most toxic species to be found here, perhaps extra-terrestrials in some distant future will come to disport themselves on Human Planet, among billions of highly evolved, stingless, weaponless homo sapiens.

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