Jellyfish Lake, Palau Photo by JOSH HADDAD
Beverly Hills High School

Q&A: Senior at Beverly High dives deep at Jellyfish Lake in Palau

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Ben Shofet: Can you tell me about where you grew up?

Josh Haddad: I was born in California and then when I was around 10 months, I moved to Normandy. It’s in the north of France and is mostly farmland. After living there for a while I moved to Paris and then finally moved back to America, and lived in Redondo Beach until I moved to Beverly Hills. I spent a lot of my childhood moving back and forth until I was about four. Then once my dad bought a house in Hawaii, I began just going back and forth from there.

Shofet: You mentioned having traveled to many places, so where exactly have you gone?

Haddad: I’ve traveled to Palau which is like Guam, it’s near Indonesia. It was a craziest thing I’ve ever done. I went there for a diving trip with my dad. I’ve also gone to France, Japan, China, Israel a few times, England, I stopped by Guam once and I used to go to Tennessee a lot.

Shofet: What was the most memorable trip you’ve been on?

Haddad: The best trip ever was Palau, it was insane. I went scuba diving, freediving, it was crazy. I saw four manta rays and sharks when I would dive. The manta rays were an inch away from my head…There we also huge trigger fish that tried to bite a chunk out of my leg until my instructor smacked it in the face and I was fine. It’s a huge, huge fish, it must have been the size of two basketballs. I also went in this one lake called Jellyfish Lake because there are literally millions of jellyfish in the lake. You can hold the jellyfish because they can’t sting your hand, only your really thin skin like your eyelids. There are orange and yellow jellyfish and the water is green. They feel like a bunch of marshmallows in the water, it’s crazy. There are also crocodiles in the lake but they don’t do anything to hurt you. The lake [itself] is toxic so I was only allowed to snorkel there, because if you scuba dive too deep it’s harmful. The deepest I’ve gone is 80 feet with a tank.

Shofet:Where are you planning to go next?

Haddad: I’m actually planning my next diving trip to go to Tahiti which is just south of Hawaii. I want to go once I graduate with my dad and an instructor. And when I dive, I only like going with people who are certified, otherwise it’s dangerous for them and not as fun because you have to be more cautious with them. I was certified when I was 12, so I’ve done it enough to know what I’m doing. I’m also planning to go to the Maldives after I go to Tahiti.

Shofet: Can you explain what diving is like for someone who has never been?

Haddad: It feels like you’re dreaming and it feels like you’re not actually there. It’s so blue it’s like you want to drink the water. So you fall backwards into the water off the boat and it’s really cold so it wakes you up. It’s crazy when you look down. Everything has a blue tone to it down there… It is so open but you feel like so enclosed. I just love it.