In truth, we won't be swimming much, for the Dead Sea has such incredibly high salt content (30%) that it places the body too high in the water to stroke properly. As a former lifeguard and a strong swimmer, I found it an odd sensation. Is it even possible to drown in the Dead Sea? I dunno. Though we won't be doing any laps, we can bob and float on our backs while perusing a magazine or a newspaper. And we can slather ourselves in therapeutic mud, the mineral content of which is said to be good for allergies, bronchial infections, glandular ailments, skin problems, relaxation, and world peace. OK, I made up that last one. Both of these stereotypical Dead Sea images are contained in my most recent photo gallery:
Just pray you don't have any openings on your skin. Don't shave before the swim. And, if any water gets in your eyes, steel yourself for a few minutes of sheer agony. (I learned this the hard way.)
The Dead Sea is known locally as Al Bahr Al Mayit or Bahr Lut (the Sea of Lot). Part of the border between Jordan and the West Bank runs through it. It is roughly 40 miles long and between four and 12 miles wide. Its main water source is the Jordan River, but it has no outlet.
Its name is apropos because its salt content is seven times greater than that of the oceans, making most plant and animal life impossible. Eleven species of bacteria can survive in this environment, but no fish. The high salinity is due to a high evaporation rate which has, over time, led to a build up of salts.
In recent decades, the Dead Sea has been receding by about 16 feet a year, mainly because there is no longer much inflow from the stagnant Jordan River (please see my photographs of the Jordan River here http://www.redroom.com/galleryimage/bethany-beyond-jordan-where-jesus-was-baptized-john-0 and here http://www.redroom.com/galleryimage/the-river-jordan-and-church-bethany-beyond-jordan-where-jesus-was-baptized-john), water is diverted from it for irrigation, and, of course, there is a high evaporation rate. The water level has fallen to 1,378 feet below sea level, and about 30% of the Dead Sea's original area has vanished. Some experts believe it may dry up completely within the next 50 years, so there are efforts underway to reverse this trend, possibly by constructing a "Dead to Red" (i.e., Dead Sea to Red Sea) canal.
I've included a couple photographs of the environmental devastation of the Dead Sea in my photo gallery, but mostly I've kept it light and frivolous so as not to ruin your day at the beach. Oh, and I almost forgot to warn you. . .when you get out of the water, be sure to have a fresh water shower and shampoo right away. Otherwise the saline crust that forms on your skin as the water evaporates will have you moving with all the fluidity of the Tin Man before Dorothy found him and oiled him, and it will take days of concerted effort before you will be able to drag a comb through your hair. :-) (I learned this the hard way, too.)
Causes Ellen Sheeley Supports
For All Women Foundation