The Dead Sea's Name Has Nothing To Do With High Fatality Rates

The Dead Sea is the lowest body of water on Earth (via Britannica), and that is just the beginning of its peculiarities. Located between Israel and Jordan, the Dead Sea dates back to Aristotle, who wrote of its extraordinary waters, according to the New World Encyclopedia. At 42 miles long and 11 miles wide, it contains plenty of nutrients, like magnesium, calcium, and potassium, according to U.S. News and World Reports.   

The water in the Dead Sea also contains a lot of saline, meaning it's incredibly salty, with most of the salt concentration toward the bottom of it. The different levels of salinity create what Britannica refers to as two different water masses at times, which can result in vast temperature changes and water depths. These unique qualities make it a popular destination for those looking to improve a variety of health conditions including psoriasis, acne, and reducing inflammation (per U.S. News and World Reports).

The Dead Sea is one of the saltiest bodies of water on Earth

The Dead Sea has, on average, a salinity of 34%. To put that into perspective, the Earth's oceans have about 3.5% salinity, and the Great Salt Lake in Utah has levels that range between 5% and 27%. Oddly enough, the Dead Sea isn't the saltiest body of water on the planet — that distinction goes to the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica, according to Earth Observatory.

The salinity of the Dead Sea prevents anything other than bacteria and microbial fungi from living in it, and that's how it got its name. But that salinity also results in another strange anomaly — density. The water is so dense that just about anyone can float with relative ease (via Britannica). The resistance of the water is described as similar to what it feels like when you're floating with a pool noodle without the noodle, per National Geographic

People have drowned in the Dead Sea

The density of the Dead Sea is strange. It pushes against your body, making it hard to stay still for very long. In fact, Mark Twain wrote that it was easy to lose your balance and flip over. He also said that while you can "stand up" in water over your head with your chest out of the water, you can't remain that way for long because the water is constantly pushing your feet out from under you (via Weather Channel). 

Floating in the Dead Sea is so easy that it's reported that you can't drown in it, per ABC News. But that's not exactly true. In fact, things could get bad for anyone that finds themselves face down because the buoyancy could keep your head submerged. Moreover, for anyone overturned, it might be difficult to get any leverage to turn back over. It's so dangerous that in 2010 the Dead Sea was named a top dangerous place to swim after lifeguards had to rescue 21 people that year, according to World Atlas.