TEL AVIV – For the first time ever, a team of international athletes will attempt to swim across the Dead Sea later this month, Green Prophet reported.
The 3 million-year-old Dead Sea, one of the world’s saltiest lakes, is the lowest point on earth and is bordered by Jordan and Israel. Its hypersaline waters – 10 times saltier than an ocean – make swimming in it extremely risky.
Nevertheless, Israeli shipping magnate Udi Erell, who first hatched the plan, is hoping that the swim will raise awareness about the rapidly shrinking Dead Sea. According to the event website, the water level has dropped by more than 25 meters over the last three decades.
Erell, himself an open-water marathon swimmer, was born near the Dead Sea and his parents lived in a hut on its shores. Two years ago Erell organized a 123-hour relay swim from Cyprus to Israel to promote awareness about ocean pollution.
Erell will be joined by more than a dozen swimmers from around the world including Israel and Jordan on November 15 for the seven-hour swim.
Organizing the initiative was fraught with challenges, the report said. First, Erell had to secure permits from both the Israeli and Jordanian governments to swim the cross-border waters, no easy feat in the Middle East.
The physical challenges of swimming in a body of water that is 35 percent saline were no less daunting: Ingesting water can cause instant suffocation and eyes must be protected. For this reason, the swimmers will wear full face masks and be accompanied by a medical team.
The event hopes to act as a call to action for governments to reverse the process of the disappearing sea by implementing stronger regulation on mineral extraction industries, investing in water-saving technologies and preventing water depletion from its tributaries, such as the Jordan River.
The goal to put back 800 million cubic meters of water into the sea, the minimum volume required to halt the declining sea levels, the report said.
“We’ve gathered hereby at this magnificent sea, to express our gratitude and love, cry out, and help in efforts to bring it back to life,” the event website states.