The Dead Sea is a lie. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute found that the body of water, once thought to be barren, is actually “a fantastic hot spot for life.” They discovered this after a series of dive missions last year. National Geographic reports the dive teams discovered craters at the bottom of the sea that “were covered with films and sometimes surprisingly thick mats of new bacterial species.” Like LaserJet printers, the Dead Sea is not what its name would portend.
The dives themselves were difficult because, as anyone who is Facebook friends with someone who went on Birthright Israel can tell you, the Dead Sea is extremely buoyant. Divers had to strap 90-pound weights to themselves before navigating the dark waters.
Once down at the sea floor, they found a network of about 30 craters that pumped fresh water. Living in these low-saline plumes were diverse populations of bacteria. “Not only have the organisms evolved in such a harsh environment, [marine microbiologist Danny] Ionescu speculates that the bacteria can somehow cope with sudden fluxes in fresh water and saltwater that naturally occur as water currents shift around the springs.”
New Life-Forms Found at Bottom of Dead Sea [National Geographic]