The Dead Sea
The “Dead Sea” is quite a gloomy name given to quite a fascinating place. The Dead Sea has some features that make it stand out from most other water bodies. It is called the “Yam Ham Mawet” in Hebrew, which means “Sea of Death”. It is a lake which is bordered by the West Banks of Jordan on the east and Israel to the west. It covers roughly a surface area of 402 square kilo meters. Its shores are 396m below sea level making it the lowest dry point on Earth. The Dead Sea gets its distinctive name from its incredible salinity which ranges from 28-35% (meaning 100g of the Dead Sea would contain approximately 30gms of salt), by comparison, oceans have a salinity of 3-6% only. It lies in the Jordan Rift Valley and its main tributary is the Jordan River. Its geographic location placing it in between the holy lands of Israel and Jordan give it a religious significance. It is believed by many that Jesus Christ was baptised (Christian cleansing ritual) in the Jordan River, which is a tributary of the Dead Sea (known as the “salt sea” in the Old Testament).
Interesting fact about dead sea: The Dead Sea has a density of 1.246 KG/Litre. This makes swimming much more like floating.
It has offers tourists a rejuvenating and refreshing experience through the serine and calm vibe that it gives out. The most intriguing feature is that it lets people float on the water effortlessly, just like sleeping on a soft bed. Its religious history also makes it a well visited place.
What makes the Dead Sea, Dead?
Obviously the extensive salt content makes the Dead Sea, is the reason why it is called the Dead Sea. But what makes it so salty?
Many contributing factors exist to make it the way it is. First of all the Dead Sea is landlocked because of its low lying shore (423 metres below sea level). The fresh water and salt water that comes into the Dead Sea (approximately six and a half million tons) is trapped there until it evaporates. The evaporations happens at a fast pace since the region is extremely hot. Therefore the water that escapes from the Dead Sea in the form of vapour is more than the water that is brought into it by the Jordan River. This leaves the remaining water concentrated with the various salts of the Dead Sea.
The Dead Sea is comprised of many minerals. It is not only the presence of the common salt we use in our daily lives (table salt or sodium chloride), but minerals of potassium, calcium, bromine, magnesium and iodine are also present in large quantities. This feature is common to most oceans also. The rock material and pebbles that surrounds the Dead Sea is formed by these minerals is called “Halite”.
Life in the Dead Sea
No pun intended; as the name suggests, it is quite obvious that no life is capable of living in such extreme conditions of salinity. Any aquatic life that enters the Dead Sea will quite simply be “Dead”. Although a few microorganisms like certain bacteria and fungi can exist in the Dead Sea. Apart from this gruelling quality, the Dead Sea has some healing properties as well which we will come across as we progress further.
The Dead Sea has become a must see for all the tourists who visit Israel or Jordan. It is truly a national treasure. The Western shore of the Dead Sea is filled with beaches and bathing centres which provide access to the water. There are also two therapeutic beaches (EinBokek and Neve Zohar) along with numerous hotels, resorts, restaurants, shopping centres and lastly many adventurous activities such as rappelling, bicycling, camel tours and more. The Judean desert following the Dead Sea also attracts the eye with wonderful oases and its flora and fauna. The cliff present at foot of the Ha-He’etekim is also an important part of the desert tourism as it contains some beautiful monasteries built by the monks who have dedicated themselves to live as Jesus did. The coastline is also bordered by springs and rich wildlife.
The Healing and Nourishing Nature of the Dead Sea
Sea salts and minerals from the Dead Sea contain a unique composition, which make them good for skin and body. The salts are used in aroma therapy and various other medical therapies to treat diseases and even to relieve stress. The Sea bed contains black mud which can be applied on the skin to provide it with rich nourishments to make the skin glow. The black mud is so famous that it is sold in packaging as a cosmetic product.Therefore the Dead Sea which is known for its lifelessness is actually a natural rejuvenating ground.
Approaching Towards Extinction
According to the BBC, the Dead Sea has revealed sea level patterns which tell that the Dead Sea would cease to exist by the year 2050. The decrease in the levels is being caused by the Human interference. The construction of canals, dams and soil erosion are causing disruptions in the Jordan River which brings in the water to the Dead Sea. This would cause a major imbalance in the area as it is a barren desert which depends upon the Dead Sea to provide the soil and the vegetation with proper nourishments. Engineers have found a solution to this problem which involves building canals which channel the water from the Red Sea into the Dead Sea. This project is known as the Two Seas Canal which is estimated to be 180 kms long.
All in all the Dead Sea is a wonderful spot with mystical properties which make it geographic, scientific, tourist and religious spectacle. Anyone who visits the Dead Sea will truly be astonished by its character and admire its austerity.