Dead Sea is not quite dead yet: Scientists

Last Updated: Sunday, October 2, 2011 - 14:57

Washington: The `Dead Sea` is not quite dead
yet, as freshwater springs are still feeding the drying water
body, scientists say.

A team of researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the
Negev in Israel and the Max Planck Institute of Marine
Microbiology in Germany used highly skilled divers to observe
the springs and undersea life.

The scientists knew the springs and the organisms that
grew around them were there, but they has never been able to
observe them directly.

"While researchers have known for decades that the `Dead`
Sea was a misnomer, the rich variety of life as evidenced in
the vicinity of the springs was unexpected," Danny Ionescu, of
Max Planck Institute, was quoted as saying.

Ionescu said: "While there are no fish present, carpets
of micro-organisms that cover large seafloor areas contain
considerable richness of species.

"The micro-organisms in the Dead Sea water mainly belong
to the domain Archaea and they number around 1,000 to 10,000
per millilitre, much lower than regular sea water."

"Never before have microbial mats/biofilms been found in
the Dead Sea and not much is known about sediment
microorganisms in the Dead Sea," Ionescu added.

The freshwater springs studied by the researchers keep
the Dead Sea from disappearing even faster. The springs burst
forth from craters that are up to 45 feet in diameter and 60
feet deep, the researchers said.

"By developing a measurement system for these springs, we
will be able to determine more accurately how much water is
actually entering the Dead Sea," said Jonathan Laronne of Ben
Guiron University.

The team is now planning to return to the bottom of the
Dead Sea later this month.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, October 2, 2011 - 14:57

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