The Dead Sea is one of the world’s most famous bodies of water. Its lunar landscape, curative mud and saline water — on the surface of which is possible to lie and take a nap without worrying about drowning — attract over 1.7 million tourists a year. The Dead Sea is roughly 8.6 times saltier than the ocean. Unfortunately, this may not be the case for much longer.
Few realize that the Dead Sea is dying. Each year its surface drops by over a metre, slowly retracting the life force of the Salt Sea forever more. Over the course of the past 30 years, the shoreline has shifted by two kilometres. At this current rate of change, the sea will be gone completely over the next 40 years according to experts and analytical studies of the water and the land surrounding it itself.
The Dead Sea is given life by mainly one river: the Jordan River, which supplies it with clean, fresh water flowing from the distant Golan Heights and the Sea of Galilee lying in the north of the Promised Land. The river has always given life to the sun-scorched land, however many are using the river for personal agricultural use which is beginning to take its toll, as the fresh water taken is not leaving enough to pump life towards the Dead Sea. “Many take and don't place back,” one activist stresses. “Everyone won’t believe us when we tell them, but there will be a day where we can no longer float on the waters because of our own blindness to this issue. When I was younger I'd float for hours, watching the sun catch my feet as I lay there, many children will not feel this because of or decisions right now and something must be done.”
In biblical times, the Jordan Rivers banks were an oasis of greenery, and the thick vegetation gave shelter to many species of wild animals including mammals such as leopards and ibex, as well as a wide array of feathered birds such as storks and pelicans. Presently, most of the Jordan River's water is used for crops of bananas, citrus fruits and other kinds of produce that are exported all over the globe. The many veins that connect to the beating heart of the Sea have always been hailed as prolific, often sacred. It's only now that its' energy is being drained.
Blame is often placed on the Israeli government and their apparent care- free attitude when it comes to the Dead Sea, despite the amount of tourism it brings. Ecological activists everywhere are campaigning for something to be done about possibly saving the Sea by finding alternative ways of saving it. Petitions are never ending but seem to only go in a flat circle where they are more often than not ignored by those in charge. A problem many believe to just dissipate on its own, hoping for some kind of miracle.
Created by the same shift of tectonic plates that formed the Syrian-African Rift Valley several million years ago, the Dead Sea owes its precarious state to both human and geological factors. Originally part of an ancient, much larger lake that extended to the Sea of Galilee, its outlet to the sea evaporated some 18,000 years ago, leaving a salty residue in a desert basin at the lowest point on earth — 1,300 feet below sea level. Since then, this body of water, known as the Dead Sea since Greco-Roman times, has maintained its equilibrium through a fragile natural cycle: it gets fresh water from rivers and streams from the mountains that surround it and loses it by evaporation.
The importance of the Dead Sea cannot be stressed enough, many of its followers flock to its feet as they believe it to possess healing powers, thought only to exist in stories and folklore. Whether you are a believer is often left up to personal interpretation and experience. Many with skin ailments have bathed in the brine only to leave seemingly cured. The Salt Sea has always had a very religious sentiment about it, existing in a very specific location in a very religious state. Could it be the workings of a higher power for the miracles you hear about, or is it just science? Once again, an opinion is key — all that matters is that the Sea is drowning in time as it slowly perishes.
Your worth is measured in your own weight in the water of the Dead Sea; you float as seamlessly as you float through life, carefree and content. Just remember that the Dead Sea won’t carry you much longer. It now relies on those it once held.