Hakai Magazine


One Great Shot: A Constellation of Moons

A search for a secret cove leads to an unforgettable jellyfish encounter.

Authored by

by Jake Wilton

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swimmer in a smack of moon jellies

While exploring a remote corner of the Indonesian archipelago Kepulauan Raja Ampat, one of the world’s last true ocean paradises, my friends and I heard about a nearby secret cove where jellyfish could be found in large numbers.

Our homestay host had seen them a few years before, so helped us organize a boat and directed us to the area.

The conditions were perfect: clear, sunny skies; amazing visibility; and not a breath of wind. After 20 minutes of searching island coves along the way to our destination, we happened across an area bubbling at the surface with moon jellyfish. Once we were in the water, we were awestruck at the sheer number. There must have been hundreds of thousands of jellyfish spread across hundreds of meters and to depths beyond the light.

I had my friend, freediver Rhys Muddle, descend and allow the jellyfish to surround him. The 190-degree view of my fisheye lens was essential to capturing the immensity of the scene.

Our host later informed us he had never seen jellyfish in that precise location, or in such huge numbers before. We searched there again, unsuccessfully, every day for weeks, which proved to us that we had experienced a truly rare and special event.