Many bodies of water are high in saline levels, such as lakes, seas, lagoons and oceans. Lakes are particularly interesting because of its enclosed structure without an opening or closing, making it a bigger mystery as to how its salty nature came about. Here we talk about the saltiest lakes in the world and some interesting facts about them.
List of Saltiest Lakes in the World
1. Gaet’ale Pond
The saltiest lake in the world is the Gaet’ale Pond, located in the ghost town of Dallol in Ethiopia. This region is one of the most tectonically active in the world, and its 2005 earthquake is actually how this pond came into existence. With all the volcanic activity in the area, the lake’s saline content has reached an intense level of 43%, which is more than 12 times that of the world’s oceans.
If that wasn’t fascinating enough, it is also considered one of the hottest locations on earth, regularly bubbling with boiling water and emitting toxic gases like chlorine and sulphur. This has been proven to be dangerous to any form of life, as dead birds and insects are commonly found in the area. Moreover, it could also potentially kill human beings. Although there are planned tours to this area, people are warned to keep healthy by staying far away from its poisonous nature.
2. Don Juan Pond
The Don Juan Pond is second on the list of saltiest lakes in the world, with a salinity level of 33.8%. Located in Antarctica’s Wright Valley, it is found in one of driest areas of the continent. What is interesting about it is that despite Antarctica’s cold and frigid temperatures, the lake surprisingly remains liquid all year round because of its immense salt content. Although it is only 4-inches deep, its unique chemistry and cold-salty-dry conditions have made it an ideal research site for studying life on Mars, an on-going project of science institutions in partnership with NASA. The once scarce Wright Valley is now frequented by scientists and astrobiologists since the lake’s discovery in 1961.
3. Lake Retba
Senegal is home to the 3rd saltiest lake in the world – Lake Retba, also called “the Dead Sea of Senegal”. The lake is most famous for its naturally-occurring pink color, with locals often calling it “Lac Rose”. However, depending on the time of the year and the corresponding climate conditions, it can transform into a dark red shade as salt levels can reach up to 40%. This beautiful occurrence is caused by a certain kind of bacteria that thrives on high levels of salt but is not dangerous to humans. In fact, compared to the first two lakes in this list, swimming in Lake Retba is not life-threatening to humans, as long as you cover yourself in Shea butter for protection against that salt-sun combination. Luckily for the Senegalese people, they actually benefit from the lake’s salt content, especially when preserving fish and producing salt to supply to the rest of Africa.
4. Lake Vanda
The second unusually salty lake found in Antarctica is Lake Vanda. Unlike the Don Juan Pond, a transparent ice sheet mostly covers the lake throughout the year as its salt level is significantly lower. However, during summer, the icecaps along the edges of the lake melted to form a moat for people to swim in. This gave way to the Royal Lake Vanda Swim Club managed by the Vanda Station, an Artarctic research base which included station buildings and a group of scientists who lived in the area. This Swim Club allowed brave visitors to swim along the moat following specific rules such as swimmers must be naked, completely immersed and overseen by a Vandal (Vanda Station officer). Once visitors complete this, they are honoured with a “Royal Lake Vanda Swim Club” shoulder patch. However, this was closed in 1995 due to environmental concerns.
The Garabogazköl lagoon is part of the Caspian Sea in Turkmenistan, but it is separated by a narrow and rocky ridge, with a small opening connecting their waters. Compared to the Caspian Sea’s salinity of 1.2%, the Garabogazköl lagoon’s is much higher at 35%. Along this ridge between the two bodies of water is the city of Garabogaz with a population of around 10,000 people. In this city as well as other nearby towns, salt mining has become popular with railways and facilities built to efficiently excrete salt from the lagoon. Because of these operations, water levels in the Caspian Sea and the lagoon fluctuate greatly and could pose a threat to the country if not managed properly.
6. Lake Assal
Djibouti is a country in Eastern Africa not common to most people and not significantly known for world-renowned attractions except Lake Assal, the 6th saltiest lake in the world. It is a lake found in the crater of a volcano, which is the reason for its high salt content and non-existence of animal and plant life. However, nearby the lake, you’ll find camels, insects, lizards and minnow fish. What’s unique about this lake is the way locals extract salt. Unlike commercial means of extracting through machines, local men dive into the lake and collect salt pearls, which are then given to the local women to help sort out. Sometimes you’ll see caramels carrying blocks of salt from this lake to the Ethiopian Highlands.
7. Dead Sea
Last on our list is this popular tourist spot and what most people mistaken to be the saltiest lake on earth. The Dead Sea is a beautiful lake bordering Jordan and Israel. With a saline level of 33.7%, its composition of minerals and other components has been discovered to have good health benefits, making it a major center for health research. It is also known for treating skin problems like acne, psoriasis and cellulite. Moreover, according to the Catholic Bible, it was actually a relevant source of products more than 2,000 years ago. Although years have seen its sea levels drop significantly, Israel and Jordan are investing millions of dollars to maintain its pristine waters and save one of their most visited tourist destinations.
These are just some of the saltiest lakes on earth, natural wonders of the world that also serve as sources of one of our most-consumed commodities.
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