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Israel Photography by Yoav Cohen

Tragically Beautiful - The Dead Sea

A drive down road 90 a transports you to another planet. Vast, seemingly desolate plains lie under towering mountains on one side, and on the other - the shore of the lowest place on earth.

The Dead Sea is a dying wonder. Years of industrial mining of its minerals, climate change and other human intervention have all created an imbalance that is rapidly expanding in this no-mans-land.

Still, the Dead Sea is still one of Israel's main attractions, drawing tourists away from the center an into the heart of the desert. And here, like many places, exploring the area from a bird's eye view gives a new appreciation for this natural wonder. Not only that, it reinforces the need to find a balance between the land, and us.

I recently visited the Dead Sea for the first time in over eight years. It was like no other visit before. What was a sleepy, aged tourist spot with dreary hotels has got a major facelift - with new attractions like a beachfront promenade and brand new mall.

What I was interested in though, was what we cannot see from the ground. I found four locations to launch my camera in the air and look down. This is what I found:

Location 1: Salt Lagoons & Mineral Pools

The South ponds of the Dead Sea are made up of artificial pools from which minerals and salt are industrially harvested. Between the northern lake and southern artificial evaporation pools are pumps that regulate the flow of water through the made man channel.

At Pumping Station P5, the water, ground have merged to create a salt lagoon stretching hundreds of meters from the shore, colored green by Dunaliella algae that grow in this hostile environment.

Location 2- Salt Mushrooms

Another form the salt takes on as water evaporates from the Dead Sea are formations that appear to grow out of the water like mushrooms. These micro-islands have appeared more and more over recent years and now spot the south pools of the Dead Sea as the water evaporates faster than it being replaced by winter rains.

The mushrooms themselves are one of the central attractions that people visit on the south side of the hotel district, and are indeed a unique place to venture into the water and explore.

Location 3 - The Salt Pier

Not far from the salt mushrooms, on the north side of the hotel district, lies another unbelievable site - a salt pier that extends hundreds of metres out into the sea. At 5am it was time to set up camera, wait for the sun to rise and let the images speak for themselves.

Location 4 - North Shore

One final stop I insisted on making was along road 90 leading north. At one of the viewpoints we stopped, looked down, and saw one of the thousands of sinkholes that now dot the entire area. This one was filled with water and minerals, turning it into a natural spa, though to get to it you would need to scale down the cliff of the cut off, protected and natural north of the Dead Sea. To me, this image captured the beauty and tragedy of this majestic location, proving that even harshest lands can still be compromised by human activity.

Dead Sea - the North Shore

Images from this collection are now part of my genesis NFT collection - A Dead Sea - available now on OpenSea. Images are also available for prints as well art through the Store. For more information on how you can help preserve the Dead Sea's habitat, visit the Dead Sea Story, or contact me.


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