The Dead Sea, also known as the Salt Sea, borders Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west. There are only few bodies of water in the world that are as interesting, intriguing, and historically significant as the Dead Sea. Jews, Egyptians and Muslims of the ancient times have put this body of water on the map. Today, this hypersaline phenomenon is visited by tourists around the world. Here’s a list of the amazing facts about the Dead Sea.
1. The Dead Sea is called “dead” because of its high salinity.
The high salt content in the Dead Sea makes it impossible for fish, plants and other larger organisms to live. It has so much concentrated salt that it is 8.6 times saltier than the ocean. Even though fresh water from the Jordan river runs to it, the water is forced to evaporate, creating a cycle of highly salinated water.
Despite being called as such, the Dead Sea is not completely inhospitable. Only a small amount of tiny organisms manage to thrive in the salty waters (we’ll get to that more later on).
2. It’s not really a sea.
Technically, the Dead Sea is an endorheic salt lake with the Jordan River flowing into it. It retains all the water, which evaporates quickly as we stated above, and does not flow out to any other lakes, seas or oceans. At its widest point, the lake is 15 kilometers wide, and the total length of the lake is 50 kilometers.
3. It’s located at the lowest point on Earth.
The shores and the water surface are located 1,401 feet or 427 meters below sea level, making it a body of water with the lowest elevation of land. In its deepest part, it’s more than 2,300 feet below sea level. Scientists even estimate that the Dead Sea may be sinking more every year. It is situated on the edge of the Judean Desert near Jerusalem, and serves as the connecting point between the desert and developed land in the Middle East.
4. The Dead Sea is one of the saltiest bodies of water on earth, but not the saltiest one.
Many people believe that the Dead Sea is the saltiest of all salty bodies of water, but actually, it is not. It’s a hypersaline lake that contains 33.7% concentration of sodium chloride and other mineral salts. But the Lake Assal in central-western Djibouti has 34.8% salt concentration, the Lagoon Garabogazköl of the Caspian Sea and the Lake Vanda in Antarctica have 35% salinity, and the Don Juan Pond situated in McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica has 44% salinity.
5. Life forms can still exist in the Dead Sea.
Its extreme salinity prevents visible life forms such as fish and aquatic plants to thrive in this water, but some bacteria and microbial fungi have been discovered living in the Dead Sea in recent years. In addition, the rainy seasons decrease the salinity of the lake to a certain extent, making the water habitable for other types of bacteria.
6. It spits out asphalt.
Strangely, the Dead Sea constantly discharges asphalt, which rises to the surface of the water. The Dead Sea constantly spits up small pebbles and blocks of the black substance from deep seeps. Because of this unusual phenomenon, the Greeks called it “Lake Asphaltites.” The ancient Egyptians, meanwhile, imported asphalt from the Dead Sea for use in mummification.
7. The Dead Sea has healing properties.
It may not support life, but it is useful in several treatment applications. The Dead Sea has low pollen content, allergen-free and contains different types of minerals. The atmospheric pressure near this lake is high and solar UV radiation is significantly reduced. All these factors make it contribute to benefit human health, and it is why some doctors even prescribe a visit to the Dead Sea for their patients for healing. The water is said to help in treating people with respiratory issues like rhinosinusitis, joint problems like osteoarthritis and skin conditions like acne, dandruff, dry skin, psoriasis, cellulite, hives and more. The lake also alleviates stress, which causes most diseases.
8. It can operate as a natural spa.
The salty lake is the biggest natural free spa on the planet. The Dead Sea salt and mud has healing properties, and they are used to treat the skin, especially those with conditions stated above. Besides healing, the Dead Sea salt has skin beautifying properties, that is why it’s a popular ingredient in lotions, creams, body scrubs and facial masks. If you need to indulge in further spa treatments, there are many hotels offering rejuvenating spa services to choose from near the area.
9. You can’t sink at the Dead Sea but you can still drown.
Do you think that once you can float on the Dead Sea, it’s impossible to drown? Think again. Yes, a person cannot sink in the Dead Sea because of the high density of water compared to the density of human body, but this high density makes any kind of movement extremely difficult. As long as you float on your back, there’s nothing to worry about, but if you accidentally flip facing down the water, you might be in real danger. If you are a good and strong swimmer, you may be able to turn back to face the sky again, but if you’re not, you will be forced in inhale and drink too much of the super salty water. It can deplete your electrolytes throughout the body and eventually disrupting kidney and heart functions as well.
10. The Dead Sea has various ties to people from the Biblical times.
This famous lake is mentioned in different books of the Bible throughout history. Abraham was most likely the first tourist to visit the Dead Sea where he fought a war. King David considered it as a place of refuge while hiding from King Saul. The prophet Ezekiel had visions there. King Herod made it a health resort. And Jesus was baptized near it, on the Jordan river, by John the Baptist.