Monday, March 20, 2017

Hodgepodge 142/365 - Dead Sea

I just got back from floating in the Dead Sea. Initially, I wasn't convinced it was for me: the water temperature sounded too chilly—22°C, or about 70°F. Doesn't that sound chilly? Does to me . . .

But then my nextdoor neighbors here at the hotel, Deb and Eva, said that they were going to the beach, so I decided to tag along. If nothing else, I could take photos. Right?

But once I was there, of course I had to get in and see what this business of "heavy water" really means. In the end, it wasn't too cold at all. And the experience of 34 percent salinity—almost ten times as salty as the oceans—was super trippy, I have to admit. Staying vertical took quite some doing: the water wanted to flip me over. Seriously!

The scene
Eva and Deb

So now I've been in the sixth-saltiest body of water on earth (the saltiest, surprisingly, is Don Juan Pond on Antarctica, followed by salt lakes and one lagoon in Senegal, Turkmenistan, and Djibouti), and I'm at the lowest land elevation on earth: 1,412 feet below sea level. Tomorrow we will climb 1,200 feet to the top of Masada and still be below sea level! That's pretty trippy too.

Unfortunately, the Dead Sea is shrinking very rapidly, mainly because of water diversions from its only tributary, the River Jordan. From a surface area of 1050 in 1930, it now stands at only 650, and our guide said that within thirty years that area will likely be halved again. The fact that nothing (except bacteria) live in the Dead Sea makes its loss less ecologically impactful, but still: it's just another symptom of humans' inability to actively steward this planet. Or limit themselves such that they have adequate resources to survive well and comfortably. Instead, populations keep growing in places inimical to life. Water will be the next, and no doubt ongoing, natural catastrophe affecting the human race (and other animals besides). Most assuredly.


  1. Is there such a thing as sub-altitude sickness? Any headaches?

  2. ahh.. that was a hightlight ... did you cover your self in the mud afterwards ?