Louisville Magazine

SEP 2016

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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L O U I S V I L L E M A G A Z I N E 9 . 1 6 5 7 ANIMAL ENCOUNTER FRESHWATER JELLYFISH In late August, when Kentucky's air is thick and wet, Park Lake feels like bathwater. e top layer is warm, unlike chlorinated pools that might freeze your toes. e private lake, in Fleming County more than two hours east of Louisville, where my boyfriend's family owns a lake house, was excavated and filled in the early 1900s, a high-elevation getaway, cabins built along the circumference. In the middle of the lake stands a tall, red platform dubbed the Big Dock. A diving board juts from one side; a newly installed plastic slide curves from the other. e first time I jumped from the diving board, my feet plunged in first, straight down, water up my nose. Surrounding me when I surfaced were what looked like quarter-sized clear lenses — freshwater jellyfish. I saw one and then too many to count. You can hold them in your hands, pinch them; their barbs can't penetrate human skin. If you try to lift them in your cupped palm above the water, they will slither out between your fingers. We paddled out to the Big Dock in a kayak, freezer-sized Ziploc in tow. A friend who raised fish didn't believe us when we told him about the Park Lake jellyfish, though there have been sightings in nearly every state, even some in the Ohio River. We scooped the bag into the water like a net, capturing the few lounging at the water's surface. ey rode in the backseat on the return drive to Louisville and lived in our kitchen while we tried, unsuccessfully, to contact our skeptical friend. Little did we know that freshwater jellyfish are unlikely to survive more than a few days in an aquarium because they're small enough to be sucked into most filters and light enough that bubbles can trap them at the surface. Poking the bag, the orbs would swim away — or maybe they were just moving with the rippling water. e jellyfish survived a week before we tossed them. We will always have to live with that guilt. Had we left them in Park Lake, they likely would have dropped seeds to the bottom of the lake, where, almost overnight, they would apparently hatch all at once, suddenly floating up by the hundreds. — Jenny Kiefer

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