Nov
09
2009

A Salty Tale of the Dead Sea

Floating Free on the Dead Sea
Floating Free on the Dead SeaCourtesy Courtesy of Ranveig at Wikimedia Commons
In anticipation for the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit coming to the Science Museum of Minnesota, I found myself wondering, why do we call it the Dead Sea? The Dead Sea is the lowest place on earth and one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world, 6 to 10 times saltier than the Atlantic Ocean. Because the salt creates such a harsh living environment, the only organisms that will survive in the Dead Sea are bacteria and algae. Any fish that accidentally swims into the Dead Sea from one of the freshwater streams that feed it, like the Jordan River, would die instantly!

The sea is so salty because of evaporation. The high temperatures and low humidity in the region cause the water in the sea to evaporate very quickly, leaving behind all the dissolved mineral salts. Some salts sink to the bottom and some wash ashore leaving a salty crusty beach.
Dead Sea Salt Beach
Dead Sea Salt BeachCourtesy Courtesy of Isewell at WikiMedia Commons

Because of the high concentration of mineral salts in the Dead Sea, the water is more dense than both freshwater and the human body. This means that our bodies become buoyant, like a cork, and we can easily float on it. When you take a dip in the Dead Sea you can actually kick back and read a book like floating on a raft. In fact, it is hard to actually “swim” in the sea.
Dead Sea Salt
Dead Sea SaltCourtesy Courtesy of Xtall at WikiMedia Commons

The Dead Sea has been a tourist attraction since the time of Herod the Great in the 1st Century BCE. The Dead Sea isn’t just a novelty for “fun while floating” but the mineral salts have been used in Egyptian mummification, in agricultural fertilizers and even in modern day cosmetics. Check out these links to learn more about Dead Sea geography, how it was formed, how it is used by humans, and some of the issues it faces today.

http://www.extremescience.com/DeadSea.htm
http://www.wysinfo.com/Dead_Sea/dead_sea_overview.html

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Very informative article well written.

posted on Thu, 11/12/2009 - 10:08am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i have a question do you like hunting or finding the dead sea scrolls? do you like going on adventures because that would be a real adventure

posted on Sun, 03/28/2010 - 1:46pm
Florence's picture
Florence says:

this is a very interesting article.

posted on Fri, 03/19/2010 - 5:01pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i want to go swimming there!

posted on Tue, 03/23/2010 - 11:15am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i've been swimming there (or floating) and it's amazing, something everyone should try and experience. just don't shave right before hand...!

posted on Tue, 05/18/2010 - 12:20pm
Max's picture
Max says:

Sometimes I wonder:
What would it feel like being in a place and discovering something. It must feel great!

posted on Thu, 08/12/2010 - 5:51pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

That is really cool.

posted on Tue, 03/23/2010 - 1:25pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

this is so cool!

posted on Wed, 03/31/2010 - 6:46pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

eww i would not want to go there!!!

posted on Wed, 03/31/2010 - 7:31pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

How is this gross? This is awesome!

posted on Thu, 04/01/2010 - 10:10am
mm's picture
mm says:

I wonder if there are anny sudden dropes if so i am NOT swimming there if not give me a book!

posted on Sun, 04/04/2010 - 3:34pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

that would be awesome to float on water like that

posted on Sun, 04/04/2010 - 5:15pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i think the dead sea scrolls are a very importent part of history and we should always remember the dead sea scrolls!!!!!!

posted on Sat, 05/01/2010 - 7:40pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

your right!!!!!!!!!!! I cant beleve they been around for 2000 years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! so I think the year it was made . Was in year 10

posted on Mon, 08/09/2010 - 12:48pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

it would be sooooo cool to swim there knoing that there would not be any sharks there just bacteria and stuff!!!!!!!

posted on Sat, 05/01/2010 - 7:43pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I think it is so cool that you can float in the dead sea's waters. I learned that because of the salt level you can float.

posted on Sun, 05/02/2010 - 1:13pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I hope to go here very soon! To float soumds so spectacular i could not even understand it!!!

posted on Sat, 05/22/2010 - 6:44pm
nate the great's picture
nate the great says:

i wonder how the salt level would change if the climate suddenly got colder

posted on Sun, 06/06/2010 - 2:57pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I hope that very few fish end up in the dead sea, that would be a shame.

posted on Wed, 06/23/2010 - 4:27pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

This is really amazing. I wish I could go to the Dead Sea and float without trying.

posted on Sun, 06/27/2010 - 2:24pm
Alondra's picture
Alondra says:

How do you float in the water without trying? It is awsome and interesting!

posted on Sun, 07/04/2010 - 2:41pm
king scroll's picture
king scroll says:

this is very fascinating to be ther when they discovered it

posted on Sat, 07/17/2010 - 4:57pm
king scroll's picture
king scroll says:

the sheperd must have thought very lucky and that would be very cool to swim in the dead sea

posted on Sat, 07/17/2010 - 4:59pm
Raphael's picture
Raphael says:

I really think this is interesting. Swimming there sounds really fun!

posted on Sat, 07/24/2010 - 11:41am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i want to go swimming in the dead sea that would be fun

posted on Tue, 07/27/2010 - 1:34pm
stealthgrenade's picture
stealthgrenade says:

looks like fun swimming there

posted on Sat, 08/07/2010 - 4:03pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

that would be so awsome to float in the dead sea !!!

posted on Sun, 08/08/2010 - 4:35pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

wow that is so cool that we can just float on the dead sea because it is so dense!!!

posted on Sat, 08/14/2010 - 5:21pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i wanna float!can they float because of the salt wata?

posted on Sun, 08/15/2010 - 1:35pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

my dumb sis thinks you can breath underwater there

posted on Sun, 08/15/2010 - 1:40pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

why would you sell something like that? and it sounds to me like if you went swmming, tyou would feel like you were swimming in syurup?

posted on Tue, 08/17/2010 - 2:55pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i want to take a swim!

posted on Sat, 08/28/2010 - 10:44am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

if it's sandy and no sharks count me in to go swimming there.

posted on Mon, 09/06/2010 - 4:09pm

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