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First-Ever Dead Sea Swim Raises Awareness On Its Receding Waters Due To Mining

First Posted: Feb 17, 2017 03:20 AM EST
Dead Sea Faces Environmental Disaster Without International Support
An aerial view of the mineral-rich Dead Sea on March 26, 2003 in southern Israel. The inland sea which separates Israel and Jordan is retreating by about a meter a year as the two countries divert almost 90 percent of the Jordan River waters that for thousands of years fed the mineral-rich sea. They are now seeking international support for a plan to pipe water north from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Dead Sea to rescue the shrinking sea.
(Photo : Moshe Milner/GPO/Getty Images)

An international environmental group called EcoPeace Middle East organized the first-ever Dead Sea Swim to raise awareness on its receding waters due to Jordanian and Israeli mining. About 28 swimmers from different countries face the challenge of swimming in the salty waters of the historical Dead Sea.

The Dead Sea or also referred to as Salt Sea is a Salt Lake that is bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel and Palestine to the west. It is about 304 meters (997 feet) deep and is considered the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. It is also one of the world's saltiest bodies of water with about 34.2 percent salinity in 2011. This is about 9.6 times as salty as the ocean. Plant and animals cannot inhabit and flourish in the said sea because of its salinity, hence it got its name.

On the other hand, the Dead Sea has regressed by 80 feet (24 meters) in the past 30 years. The environmentalists fear that it might not be around much longer. This is the reason why the EcoPeace Middle East organized this first-ever Dead Swim to lift this issue. They are calling for government action regarding the Jordanian and Israeli mining that triggers the stagnation of waters in the Dead Sea, according to Science Alert.

These brave 28 swimmers from Israel, Kenya, U.K., South Africa and New Zealand were determined to cross the salty waters from Jordan to Israel. Kim Chambers, an open-water swimmer from New Zealand, said that the swim took incredible teamwork. She further said they had unprecedented diplomatic support from Israel and Jordan to make it happen.

So, how does it feel swimming into excessive salty waters of the Dead Sea? The swimmers, who conquered about 9 miles of salty waters, cannot sink nor digest the salty waters because of its toxicity. It can also irritate their eyes with its tiny drop and really be burning. They had this object like a helmet that protected their eyes and covered their faces. After finishing their swim, they washed the salty water off their skin.

Meanwhile, Gidon Bromberg, Israeli director of EcoPeace Middle East, stated that they see the life-threatening challenge of the swim as parallel to the challenges facing the Dead Sea. "That's what needed to bring attention to an issue that needs attention right now," Chambers concluded.

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