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Swim With Jellyfish Photo: National Geographic Travel Contest Entry Captures Dreamlike Underwater Scene

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CheanChong Lim/National Geographic Traveler Photo
CheanChong Lim/National Geographic Traveler Photo

Is it a dream? Is it a nightmare? Actually, it's just another amazing perspective of the natural world from the 2013 National Geographic Traveler photo contest.

Photographer Chean Chong Lim submitted this fish-eye view of a woman swimming through a sea of "harmless" (read: non-stinging) jellyfish to the annual photography competition. Editors have included it among the best entries to grace the contest this year.

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The competition's deadline is June 30, 2013, and winners will likely be announced around late July. All of this year's submissions can be viewed at National Geographic Traveler's photo contest archive.

Update: June 26, 12:30 p.m. -- In an email to The Huffington Post, Lim confirmed that the photo was taken at Jellyfish Lake on the Pacific island of Palau in January 2012. The woman pictured was his tour guide.

"It was [a]... unique experience," Lim wrote. "Something mystical and surrealistic about it."

Scientists think the peculiar fauna of Jellyfish Lake was caused by rising sea levels at the end of the last ice age, which trapped a population of jellies in a marine lake with no predators.

The jellies of Jellyfish Lake are thought to have adapted to their predator-free environment by losing their sting -- at least the kind that concern human swimmers. The golden invertebrates use weak stingers that can't be felt by humans to feed on zooplankton.

Although the view is stunning, some researchers fear that Earth's oceans could one day look a lot like Jellyfish Lake due to overfishing and climate change. According to National Geographic, "overfishing has eliminated many of the jellies’ natural predators and competitors, while climate change is warming water temperatures to levels preferred by the invertebrates."

See more National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest entries below. Click "fullscreen" for best experience.

Also on The Huffington Post

2013 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
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