Why is it Called the Dead Sea?
Sounds kinda creepy, doesn't it? The name 'Dead Sea' is actually a kinder, gentler translation from the Hebrew name 'Yam ha Maved', which means, 'Killer Sea'. The surface of the Dead Sea is over 1,300 feet below sea level. The very bottom of the sea, in the deepest part, is over 2,300 feet below sea level. The Dead Sea has some of the most saline water on earth; as much as 35% of the water is dissolved salts! That's almost six times as salty as the ocean! The Dead Sea is completely landlocked and it gets saltier with increasing depth. The surface, fed by the River Jordan, is the least saline. Down to about 130 feet (40 meters), the seawater comprises about 300 grams of salt per kilogram of seawater. That's about ten times the salinity of the oceans. Below 300 feet, though, the sea has 332 grams of salt per kilogram of seawater and is saturated. Salt precipitates out and piles up on the bottom of the sea.
There are no fish or any kind of swimming, squirming creatures living in or near the water. There are, however, several types of bacteria and one type of algea that have adapted to harsh life in the waters of the Dead Sea. What you'll see on the shores of the Sea is white, crystals of salt covering EVERYTHING. And this is no ordinary table salt, either. The salts found in the Dead Sea are mineral salts, just like you find in the oceans of the world, only in extreme concentrations. The water in the Dead Sea is deadly to most living things. Fish accidentally swimming into the waters from one of the several freshwater streams that feed the Sea are killed instantly, their bodies quickly coated with a preserving layer of salt crystals and then tossed onto shore by the wind and waves. Brutal!
"But, hey, I thought you said the Dead Sea was DEADLY!" Not to us. Humans are remarkably adaptable. We can swim in the Dead Sea, just like we can swim in the ocean. Well, people don't really "swim" in the Dead Sea - they just "hang out". That's...