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Why Is Dead Sea So Called?

I was teaching Geography to my nephew, when he came up with an intelligent question “Why is it called Dead Sea?” Leaving me to ponder over this, he went out to play- smart boy!!

Finally after going through some books and doing research on net (I don’t rely totally on internet, because of the vast amount of false information present there), I found out the detailed reason behind it. And boy!! That was some interesting stuff!

So here is the result of my research for you to read.

Geographical Location

Dead Sea lies on the border of Jordan and Israel. It has the lowest elevation on earth—1,373 feet (419 m) below sea level at the water’s surface. (Highest elevation on earth is of Mt. Everest. You might be interested to read about the controversy surrounding the first man to reach Mt. Everest). And what’s more-the Dead Sea is still sinking lower every year.dead-sea-map

What is ‘deadly’ about Dead Sea?

Dead Sea has got very salty water, almost six to seven times more salty than an ocean! If you go 300 feet below the surface, the salt content reaches as high as 300 gm per kg of water- which is 10 times the salinity of ocean. And this is not the ordinary salt we use at home. These are mineral salts consisting mainly of potash and bromide.

Because of such high salt content, fish or any other water living creature can’t survive in it. If a fresh water fish by mistake swims to Dead Sea, it instantly dies, and its body gets covered with salt crystals.

There are, however, several types of bacteria and algae found in Dead Sea.

What makes the water so salty?

As you can see from the map above, the Dead Sea is completely landlocked. It gets its supply of water from the rivers (mainly river Jordan) and streams flowing down the mountains surrounding it. Along with water the rivers brings with it minerals and salts from the mountains- which is a normal process happening with all seas. But the catch is here- there is no water flowing out of the Dead Sea. The only way water goes out of the sea is through evaporation. When water evaporates, it leaves behind all the mineral salts in the sea- thus increasing the salt concentration.

Is it deadly for human beings also?

The answer is no. What is interesting is the fact that you can float in this water! Because of extremely high salt concentration, the water is very dense- so much so that our bodies are buoyant in its water. You won’t sink even if you can’t swim.


The only problem that you might face is that the water has a nauseous taste and is oily to touch.

I hope you found this piece of information as interesting as it appeared to me. Do tell how you found it through your comments.
Update: Sharon, through her comment, has informed about the therapeutic effect of black mud surrounding the Dead Sea. Thanks for sharing Sharon.


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57 Responses to Why Is Dead Sea So Called?

  1. smeet April 14, 2010 at 4:05 pm #

    that's pretty sweet how your nephew initiates the growth of knowledge not only of yourself but of everyone reading this. I am not sure whether the Dead Sea really is great for beginners because they might swallow too much water. Probably make them trough up quickly 🙂

  2. Jabber Server April 14, 2010 at 12:21 pm #

    Its very interesting thing that Dead See is almost six to seven times more salty than an ocean! And the water is very dense- so much so that are bodies are buoyant in its water so I think this is the best place for the beginners to learn swimming. You got such a wonderful information now your nephew will be your fan!

  3. Anshul April 14, 2010 at 1:00 pm #

    @ Jabber
    Yeah i was considering this option of learning to swim there :P.., though I'm not sure about my nephew becoming my fan, since he comes up with such questions very often. In fact many of the posts that I've written were due to the questions asked by him.

  4. sharon@making-money-internet April 14, 2010 at 3:51 pm #

    Apparently there is also a rich black mud around the Dead Sea, it’s got effective therapeutic and soothing benefits curing things like joint pain and skin conditions. I’ve had a salt spa treatment before in the UK, it was fantastic. Maybe one day I’ll take a trip to the middle east and treat myself to the real thing.

  5. Anshul April 14, 2010 at 4:25 pm #

    @ Sharon:
    Thanks for the insight Sharon. Do share your experience with us when you go to Middle East.

    @ Smeet:
    Yeah I agree. I have learnt a lot many new things because of him. Strange how kids come up with such questions, which look obvious to us but are actually not.

  6. Facebook Smileys April 15, 2010 at 7:57 pm #

    I have always wanted to go and this makes me want to go even more

  7. Anshul April 15, 2010 at 8:28 pm #

    @Facebook Smileys:
    Hope you'll get a chance very soon 🙂

  8. Louise | Italy April 16, 2010 at 8:32 pm #

    Interesting post on the Dead Sea. Hope your nephew was suitably impressed with your scholarship! Greetings from Italy via BPOTW.

  9. Ryan April 16, 2010 at 9:27 pm #

    Hey great information about the dead sea, I'd love to spend all day floating around on it lapping up the sun. I don't know if I should start this but…………what do you know about the Red Sea?

  10. Anshul April 16, 2010 at 9:52 pm #

    Thanks Louise :).. Yeah he was.. but he was more impressed by the fact that someone from Italy read this post 🙂 Thanks BPOTW

  11. Anshul April 16, 2010 at 10:01 pm #

    @ Ryan
    That's a good idea though I don't think you'll get much company there 😛
    While looking for Dead Sea I also did a research on Red Sea. But I wasn't sure if you all will be interested to know about it. Now that you mentioned, I'll cover it in the next post in a day or two. So do visit again. 🙂

  12. Miss Footloose April 17, 2010 at 4:15 am #

    I visited the Dead Sea one time while living in Ramallah, Palestine.

    I floated in the water, which felt slimy, but hey it was fun.

    Then I smeared myself all over with the mud, which smelled less than fresh, but I'm sure it would have cured me of all that ailed me except I wasn't ailing, but hey it was fun.

    Then I bought up a bunch of packages of mud in the tourist shop for my friends and family, and they thought it was fun.

    I don't normally find smelly, slimy experiences fun, but you just never know what you find when you start down a road.

  13. Pam April 18, 2010 at 1:48 am #

    Somehow I remember learning this fact from somewhere. I didn't know that the taste would make you nauseous or that the water feels oily. Very interesting.

    Visiting from BPOTW.

  14. bettyl April 18, 2010 at 7:39 am #

    Great info! I was particularly interested in the algae since we just visited a thermal area in NZ where algae is a bright yellow color that is usually confused with sulfur.

  15. Vinayak April 18, 2010 at 5:14 pm #

    oh gr8
    thnx for the info

  16. Omaha Homes April 18, 2010 at 11:13 pm #

    Oh great post. I learned many new facts about Dead Sea. Really impressive facts on it.

  17. Anshul April 19, 2010 at 1:20 am #

    @ Miss Footloose:
    Thanks for sharing your experience with us

    @ Pam:
    Thanks for visiting Pam

    @ Vinayak:
    Thanks for visiting Vinayak 🙂

    @ Omaha:
    Glad that you found it useful. Do visit again.

  18. Anshul April 19, 2010 at 1:21 am #

    @ Bettyl:
    That's really interesting Bettyl. Will love to see it myself.

  19. Orissa Property April 19, 2010 at 7:10 pm #

    I am not sure whether the Dead Sea really is great for beginners because they might swallow too much water.

  20. Carpet cleaners bellevue April 22, 2010 at 4:36 am #

    I've heard about it being dead because water drains into it but not out. It does look like it would be fun to float in.

  21. Car Finance 4U April 22, 2010 at 8:01 pm #

    Nice articles. I want to go there and try to flow or walk or water.

  22. mayweather vs mosley April 23, 2010 at 8:26 am #

    The Dead Sea distinguishes itself from the earth's most bountiful sources by it's lavish contents

  23. Michelle April 23, 2010 at 3:26 pm #

    First of all let me thank your Nephew for asking this question. And I hope he will ask you about "Bermuda Triangle" very soon..Rofl..
    Well..coming to topic..I haven't been there..If everything goes fine I will plan ma tour to Dead Sea. I wanna float!! LoL!!

  24. Lisa April 24, 2010 at 1:58 am #

    Excellent info on this amazing piece of water.

  25. Flights to Rome April 27, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

    That is great article. Thanks for the information Anshul.

  26. Ashley Baxter April 27, 2010 at 10:44 am #

    Very interesting information. I knew that typical sea creatures could not survive in the dead sea, but did not realize that its high salt content came from the fact that water only leaves the area by way of evaporation.

  27. chatwelt April 27, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    Fantastic info. but just ask the questions that are in your mind. in blogs like this, people in the internet will help you! i knew the answer before for example 😉

  28. Anshul April 27, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

    @ Orissa Property
    You should not consider dead sea as a source of learning swimming.

    @ Carpet Cleaners
    Yeah it'll be a lot of fun. But I am apprehensive about it being oily.

    @ Car FInance
    Not sure if you could "walk" over it, but do give it a try 🙂

    @ mayweather
    Wish you could elaborate your point a bit. Would love to hear more about it.

  29. Anshul April 27, 2010 at 2:51 pm #

    @ Michelle
    Even if he doesn't ask, I am planning to do a research on this topic since have been fascinated by it since childhood. So do watch out for an article on Bermuda Triangles.
    Do share your experience when you visit. 🙂

  30. Anshul April 27, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    @ Lisa
    Thanks for visiting Lisa.Hope to see you here more often.

    @ Ashley
    Same was the case with me. I knew that sea creatures can't survive in it, but didn't knew the reason before this post.

  31. Anshul April 27, 2010 at 2:58 pm #

    @ Chatwelt
    Actually I am bit skeptical about relying totally on internet because of so much false information present there. Consider the case of hoax mails for example. Search on internet about using reverse PIN in ATMs and for one correct information you'll find 10 false information that too on first page on Google. (Btw I have written a post on it, you can read it at http://www.knowledgehub.co.in/2010/01/reverse-atm-pin-hoax-or-truth.html.

    You can't rely on Wikipedia also because the information can be easily edited by anyone. That's the reason I started this blog, to provide authentic information to my readers.

    But in future if I'll have any such question, I'll contact you. 🙂

  32. Acai April 29, 2010 at 5:35 pm #

    Because nothing can live in it – it has an incredibly high concentration of salt.

  33. Amy May 7, 2010 at 5:57 pm #

    It never seems to amaze me how easy it is for anyone to float in the Dead Sea. What a weird feeling it is to go into the water and float without needing to do anything.:P Haha

  34. Anonymous May 9, 2010 at 11:08 pm #

    the article waZ really interesting……i wonder why such questions didnt come up to my mind wen i waz a kid…….may b kidz r very practical nd keen to know the fact aftr every topic now…..nywayz i love alll the articles ….thanks so much for making us know that there is still a lot to learn….

  35. Anshul May 9, 2010 at 11:37 pm #

    @ Flights To Rome
    My pleasure 🙂

    @ Acai
    Yeah you are right Acai

    @ Amy
    I agree. Will definitely go there once and enjoy this feeling

    Such questions didn't occur to me too when I was a kid. Glad that you liked the articles.

  36. Shadow June 7, 2010 at 1:44 pm #

    I wonder why it'd called dead sea, now i know the reason. Thanks a lot for the nice and cool post.Thanks a lot.

  37. ramaraobobby June 8, 2010 at 8:25 pm #

    sounds like you got a smart nephew there to make u research more and keep posting more interesting stuff. Bookmarked ur knowledghub, shall check back for more update…

  38. Juicy Couture July 27, 2010 at 3:13 pm #

    Yeh,it is so interesting!I could still remember that when i learn Geography about this "dead sea",our teaches said to us that dead sea is not death,because you can even float in this water!that Dead See is almost six to seven times more salty than an ocean!It is very safe

  39. cornerstone university August 3, 2010 at 8:08 am #

    @akai– I agree that with its high concentration of salt no lifeform can live in it.I was fascinated though that a body can float on it easilly and not drown.Sounds really fascinating!

  40. Utah Graphic Designer September 2, 2010 at 9:20 pm #

    We've got the Great Salt Lake in Utah, which is nowhere near as salty as the Dead Sea, and there are lifeforms living in it – little shrimp creatures called Brine Shrimp.

  41. Anna November 26, 2010 at 8:38 pm #

    When I visited the Dead sea last year I was really surprised with the place and the water – I really could float but moreover the sea seemed to have some healing effect. my health has become a bit better.

  42. vivek December 9, 2010 at 8:22 pm #

    The Dead Sea got its name because there is such a high salt level it's impossible for any animal life to grow there. There may be bacteria called halophilis, an archeabactera that can survive in extreme conditions.
    Metaphorically, the Dead Sea is called so, because water does not flow out of it. All rivers lead in, none go out- as if the river dies in it.
    The Dead Sea got its name because there is such a high salt level it's impossible for any animal life to grow there. There may be bacteria called halophilis, an archeabactera that can survive in extreme conditions.
    Jesus Christ took the sand of the dead sea and placed on a person who had a disease and he was healed.

  43. SEO Specialist January 7, 2011 at 6:54 am #

    @Anshul…you've got a cool nephew!Thanks to her very questioning mind.Biblically, the dead sea is a place of refuge for King David.How I dreamed of walking out there!Thanks for the info. This is a great post.

  44. Commercial Real Estate Software February 5, 2011 at 4:03 am #

    WOW! Man cool site! From where you are getting all of those stuff for your site. I am going to save down some of those pics as well as afew articles from your site, thank you buddy!

  45. Reverse Phone Lookup February 11, 2011 at 6:55 am #

    It is fortunate being on your site as I was one time in search of such articles in google search. This large search engines drives me to your site and pal I must say your site is nice in look also with the substance you updated.

  46. Chandelier Earrings April 5, 2011 at 2:39 am #

    This is some great information about the dead sea. I never knew that it was because of the salt concentration and that there is no way for the water to seep out.

  47. Anonymous May 20, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    the point that a human being canfloat in the water even if he don't know how to swim was completely new to me …. and really the whole of the article is full of knowledge.

  48. Pakistan Business June 14, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    I would love to swim in dead sea.It was all new info for me regarding dead sea and why it is so called.

  49. Sandeep pareek August 19, 2011 at 8:58 pm #

    information is waosome please keep it up searching such interesting things…

  50. Mary George February 20, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    Excellent information. Thanks .

  51. payal gupta March 20, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

    V.Insightful !! after reading it n knwng tht humans can float in dead sea… i so want to go and try it out !! 😀

  52. rasmeet April 17, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    very interesting !

  53. Engr. Shabbir Hussain June 18, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    I want to say that you really did a great effort not only for your nephew but also for all those people who were not familier from the characteristics of Dead sea.
    May God help you!

    Shabbir from Pakistan

  54. Dinithi September 15, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    i learnt a lot of cool facts about the dead sea .this is the best site ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  55. vardu February 3, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

    super information …

  56. dhruv May 23, 2013 at 3:06 am #

    great finding sir… become fan of yours…:-)

  57. piyush June 3, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    Hi Anshul!!

    Good Article. Just need to know as dead sea is surrounded by land from all fronts, then why it is not called as dead lake or dead pond. Why is it called Dead Sea.

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