Friday, July 9, 2010

The Dead Sea

Amazing view from our hotel balcony by the Dead Sea:
The Dead Sea is bordered by Israel, Jordan and the West Bank.  It is the lowest elevation on the Earth's surface of dry land and the deepest hypersaline lake in the world.  King Herod had a resort here in the 1st century B.C. and it is also the site of Queen Cleopatra's cosmetics empire.  The Dead Sea, also called the Salt Sea and the Eastern Sea in scripture, was a place of refuge and escape because it connects to the Judean wilderness.  There is great concern about the Dead Sea because the water levels are continuing to drop, 3 ft per year, and experts are studying how to restore the water level.  An oceans has around 3% of salt in the water, but in the Dead Sea the salt concentration is 32%!  You know the sting you get in your eyes when you swim in the ocean... imagine the sting from this salty lake!  Just ask poor Patrick, who I had to lead blindly back to shore, so he could rinse the salt from his eyes.
I was not expecting the water to be so clear.  Honestly, when I heard the name, I thought of murky, gross water, but it was quite the opposite.  The best part is that fish and wildlife cannot survive in the hypersaline water, so I didn't have to worry about creatures swimming below.

Here is what my book on Israel had to say about the Dead Sea:
"The Dead Sea is salty because water flows in from the Jordan River and other sources, but has no way of flowing out.  Evaporation leaves a massive amount of salt behind. Beaches here aren't sandy- they're caked with hardened crystals of salt (which hurt your feet!) The consistently dry air surrounding the Dead Sea has a high oxygen content, low pollution and allergen levels, and weakened ultraviolet radiation."

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