Dead Sea

The Dead Sea may not be deadly, but it is pretty dead.

  • The Dead Sea is a large lake containing a very high salt concentration, more than 30%; and it sits adjacent to Jordan, Israel and Palestine of the Middle East.
  • The ‘Dead Sea’ is also known as the ‘Death Sea’ and the ‘Salt Sea’, and its names are somewhat literal translations of the Arabic and Hebrew names given to the lake.
  • The Dead Sea is absent of life aside from select species of bacteria and algae due to the lethally high salt concentration, which is roughly ten times the ocean’s salinity.
  • At its longest point, the Dead Sea spans 50 kilometres (31 miles), however it is only 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) at its widest point.
  • The Dead Sea covers a surface area of roughly 600 square kilometres (231 square miles), however it is shrinking rapidly due to evaporation and a reduced quantity of inflowing water, with the depth dropping by around 1 metre (3 feet) annually.
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The Dead Sea
Image courtesy of Michael Tyler/Flickr
  • The saltiness of the Dead Sea is primarily due to the lack of outgoing rivers or streams, which means that salt from the incoming Jordan River and other sources, is trapped within the lake and builds up.
  • The Dead Sea has an increased density, due to the high salt content, that allows humans to easily float; however contrary to popular belief, the water can be highly dangerous if a person flips face-down, as the high buoyancy renders it difficult to return upright.
  • Minerals are abundant in the Dead Sea, and these have been harvested even since ancient times for health and cosmetic purposes, and the asphalt discharged by the lake has been used by the Ancient Egyptians to coat mummies.
  • The Dead Sea is commonly considered the lowest point on Earth, being approximately 429 metres (1407 feet) below sea level.
  • The Dead Sea is a popular tourist attraction and a site of many resorts, with the first dating back to the days of King Herod; however the retreating waters have caused numerous sinkholes to form nearby.
Bibliography:
Connolly K, Dead Sea Drying: A New Low-Point for Earth, 2016, BBC News, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-36477284
Dead Sea, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Sea
Inglis-Arkell E, Why So Many People Drown in the Dead Sea, 2011, Gizmodo, http://io9.gizmodo.com/5798844/why-so-many-people-drown-in-the-dead-sea
Lowest Elevation: Dead Sea, 2015, Extreme Science, http://www.extremescience.com/dead-sea.htm
Why is the Dead Sea called the Dead Sea?, 2016, Dead Sea, http://www.deadsea.com/why-dead-sea/

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Devils Tower

There is no devil hiding atop Devils Tower!

  • Devils Tower is a rock butte found among the Bear Lodge Mountains in the Black Hills National Forest in the United State’s Wyoming.
  • The top of Devils Tower sits at an elevation above sea level of 1558 metres (5112 feet), and it is 265 metres (867 feet) in height from the base.
  • ‘Devils Tower’ is also called ‘Devils Tower National Monument’, and it was once named ‘Bear Lodge’, and has also been known as ‘Great Gray’, ‘Tree Rock’ and ‘Home of the Bear’.
  • In 1892, Devils Tower became somewhat protected as part of a temporary forest reserve, and in 1906, it was named a United States National Monument, being the first monument to receive this honour.
  • Devils Tower mainly comprises of igneous rock, primarily phonolite porphyry, that is arranged in a series of large columns, and there is much rubble at the base, where many of the columns have broken away and tumbled down.
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Devils Tower
Image courtesy of Colin Faulkingham/Flickr
  • At the top of Devils Tower it is roughly 84 metres (275 feet) in diameter, while the base is around 305 metres (1000 feet) in diameter, and a walking track exists that circles around the tower.
  • On the 4th of July, 1893, the first recorded climb to the summit of Devils Tower was accomplished by local ranchers William Rogers and Willard Ripley, via a ladder they made for the purpose, and today climbing the tower is still a popular activity for rock climbers.
  • ‘Devils Tower’ was named as such due to a possible incorrect translation of the local native name that resulted in ‘bad god’s tower’, and there has been lobbying for it to be renamed ‘Bear Lodge National Monument’.
  • Native Americans consider Devils Tower a sacred site, and as such, climbers are encouraged to avoid climbing the rock in the ceremonial month of June each year.
  • Devils Tower is a popular tourist destination, and a fee is payable to visit the monument, while camping is permitted in the nearby designated camping area.
Bibliography:
Devils Tower, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devils_Tower
Devils Tower National Monument, 2016, Black Hills & Badlands, http://www.blackhillsbadlands.com/parks-monuments/devils-tower-national-monument
Devil’s Tower National Monument, 2016, Wyoming Office of Tourism, http://www.travelwyoming.com/listing/devils-tower/devils-tower-national-monument
Frequently Asked Questions, n.d, National Park Service, https://www.nps.gov/deto/faqs.htm
Mattison R, First 50 Years, 1955, https://www.nps.gov/deto/learn/historyculture/upload/First%2050%20Years.pdf

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McWay Falls

A simple snap will not capture the full beauty of McWay Falls.

  • McWay Falls is a scenic waterfall located in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, in the state of California’s Big Sur coastal region, in the United States.
  • Unless the tide is in, the water of McWay Falls drops directly onto a beach cove, that sits at the edge of the North Pacific Ocean.
  • The height of McWay Falls reaches 24.4 metres (80 feet), while a 1 kilometre (o.6 mile) long walking track enables visitors to reach the top of the falls.
  • Near McWay Falls are the ruins of a cottage built by Lathrop Brown and his wife around the 1920s, then owners of the land, and it was demolished in 1965.
  • Fauna such as gulls and other birds populate the land around McWay Falls; while seals, sea lions, whales and sea otters are sometimes found in the surrounding ocean.
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McWay Falls and the Surrounding Cove
Image courtesy of April/Flickr
  • The McWay Falls site was first officially owned by Christopher McWay in the 1870s, whom the falls are named after, and the land was originally used as a ranch.
  • The cove that McWay Falls drops into is relatively inaccessible on foot, due to the hazardous steep rock descent that would be required, and access down the cliff is prohibited.
  • In 1983, a large landslide slid into the ocean below McWay Falls to form a beach, and consequently it caused the waterfall to no longer fall directly into the ocean.
  • The land of McWay Falls was donated to the government in 1961 by the Brown family, and the site was designated a park reserve.
  • McWay Falls is active through all seasons and is a popular site for photographers, particularly due to its picturesque sunset.
Bibliography:
Hester J, Hiking to McWay Falls in Big Sur, 2015, SoCalHiker, https://socalhiker.net/hiking-to-mcway-falls-in-big-sur/
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, 2016, California State Parks, http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=578
McWay Falls, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McWay_Falls
McWay Falls, n.d, World of Waterfalls, http://www.world-of-waterfalls.com/california-mcway-falls.html
McWay Waterfall Trail, n.d, Hiking in Big Sur, http://www.hikinginbigsur.com/hikes_mcwayfalls.html
Turnball L, McWay Waterfall, 2016, Waterfalls West, http://www.waterfallswest.com/waterfall.php?id=mcway-falls-big-sur-286

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Socotra

At Socotra, you can take a trip out of this world and still remain in this world!

  • Socotra is a group of four islands, found approximately 355 kilometres (220 miles) off the coast of Yemen of western Asia, in the Arabian Sea, and the archipelago also consists of two islets; and while it sits closer to Somalia, Africa, it comes under the jurisdiction of Yemen.
  • Socotra’ also has the spellings ‘suqotra’ and ‘soqotra’, and there are various theories about the origin of the name, though it is generally thought to be derived from the Arabic words meaning ‘market of dragon’s blood’ or from the Sanskrit words meaning ‘island of bliss’.
  • The largest island, which is also called Socotra, has caves, mountains, dunes, and sandy beaches, and is 132 kilometres (82 miles) in length, while the total archipelago has a land area of approximately 3824 square kilometres (1476 square miles).
  • Socotra is known for its exotic flora numbering over 800 species, with more than a third of these species being endemic to the islands; and there is a diverse range of fauna, with at least 34 reptile and 96 land snail species, almost all of which are endemic; along with 730 fish, 300 crustacean, 4 bat and 192 bird species.
  • In 2008, the UNESCO World Heritage Convention listed Socotra as a World Heritage Site, thus making it a protected area, due to the islands’ unique biodiversity and species that are threatened.
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Part of Socotra
Image courtesy of Valerion Guillot/Flickr
  • Socotra was an ancient hub for trading with people from Rome, Greece and Egypt, selling exclusive medicines; frankincense; and a special red resin known as ‘dragon’s blood‘ that was used as a dye and for medicinal purposes; all extracted from various endemic plants.
  • The first sealed road to be constructed on Socotra was built in 2006, and there are only a few roads on the island, in part due to their negative impact on the environment, though transport methods such as bikes, 4WDs and minibuses are used, while an airport also exists.
  • The ruins of an ancient city were uncovered on Socotra in 2010 by Russian archaeologists, and there are many caves, as well as nearby shipwrecks, that can be explored.
  • As of 2004, Socotra had a population of approximately 44,000 individuals, most of these being indigenous and of Arabian descent living on the main island, and only two of the other islands were inhabited, and housed approximately 550 people between them.
  • Industries in Socotra include date growing, pearl harvesting, and fishing; while ecotourism is becoming popular, with an increased number of visitors over recent years, and activities for tourists may comprise of diving, fishing, sailing and other water sports, as well as hiking.
Bibliography:
Abrams A, The Most Alien-Looking Place on Earth, 2008, Dark Roasted Blend, http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2008/09/most-alien-looking-place-on-earth.html
Morris M, General Information, n.d, Friends of Soqotra, http://www.friendsofsoqotra.org/Soqotra_archipelago.html
Socotra, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socotra
Socotra Archipelago, 2016, UNESCO World Heritage Convention, http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1263
Socotra Island, 2016, Atlas Obscura, http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/socotra-island
White M, Socotra: Yemen’s Legendary Island, 2012, National Geographic, http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/06/socotra/white-text
Yemen, The Socotra Archipelago, 2016, Socotra, http://socotra.info/

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Snæfellsjökull National Park

Who says ice and lava can’t coexist? Snæfellsjökull National Park says otherwise!

  • Snæfellsjökull National Park is a protected area of western Iceland, that notably consists of a glacier atop an active volcano.
  • The highest point in Snæfellsjökull National Park is the Snæfellsjökull volcano, also known simply as ‘Snæfell’, at 1446 metres (4774 feet) at its peak, and its crater has a depth of 200 metres (656 feet) and contains ice.
  • Snæfellsjökull National Park covers an area of roughly 170 square kilometres (65.6 square miles), while nearby there is Bárðarlaug, a lake contained in a crater, designated as a natural monument; and a visitor centre promoting the natural, cultural and historical aspects of the region, located at Hellnar, not far from a nature reserve.
  • The last eruption of the volcano of Snæfellsjökull National Park occurred around the 3rd century AD; and today’s visitors are able to hike up the mountain, or use a variety of tracks to drive, cycle, horse-ride or walk upon, to see other areas of the park.
  • Snæfellsjökull National Park was formed in 2001, with the intent to preserve the significant natural and historical attributes, including the remnants of the farming, fishing and trade communities and associated structures, in the area.
Snæfellsjökull National Park
Part of Snæfellsjökull National Park
Image courtesy of Almir de Freitas/Flickr
  • Snæfellsjökull National Park features many different geological formations, including both rock and lava formations, a few craters, as well as a number of caves.
  • Snæfellsjökull National Park is the only protected area in Iceland that encompasses both the edges of the island country, and mountains.
  • Most of the lava fields of Snæfellsjökull National Park have a significant layer of moss across the top, and over 130 species of flora can be found in the area, which includes a number of rare plants.
  • The Snæfellsjökull glacial volcano in Snæfellsjökull National Park, is often listed as one of Earth’s greatest stores of energy or spiritual power, and the glacier has been inspirational to many creative people.
  • Wildlife in Snæfellsjökull National Park includes many bird species, whales, seals, foxes, crustaceans and other animals.
Bibliography:
The Mysterious Snæfellsjökull Glacier, n.d, Visit Iceland, http://www.visiticeland.com/things-to-do/national-parks-in-Iceland/SnaefellsjokullNationalPark
Snæfellsjökull, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sn%C3%A6fellsj%C3%B6kull
Snæfellsjökull National Park and Nearby Protected Areas, n.d, Environment Agency of Iceland, http://www.ust.is/library/Skrar/utgefid-efni/Baeklingar/%C3%9Ej%C3%B3%C3%B0gar%C3%B0urinn%20Sn%C3%A6fellsj%C3%B6kull%20B%C3%A6klingur%20EN%20www.pdf

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Bigăr Waterfall

Bigăr Waterfall is one of the greatest of nature’s beauty.

  • Bigăr Waterfall is a spectacular waterfall found in the National Park of Cheile Nerei, in Romania, in Europe.
  • ‘Bigăr Waterfall’ is called ‘Izvorul Bigăr’ in Romanian, and is also known as ‘Bigăr Spring’, ‘Bigar Cascade Falls’ and ‘Coronini’.
  • Bigăr Waterfall runs over a very large, rounded mossy rock and cliff edge, that hangs over the river below.
  • While moving over and down the rock and moss, Bigăr Waterfalls diverts off into many different small streams of water.
  • Bigăr Waterfall is situated in part of a native reserve – Izvorul Bigăr, in the Anina Mountains, which has been protected since 1982.
Bigar Waterfall, Romania, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Green, Moss, Water, Beauty, Stunning
Bigar Waterfall
Image source Unknown (Places to See) – Assumed Public Domain
  • Water from the Bigăr Waterfall falls 7 to 8 metres (23 to 26 feet) over the moss and into the river below.
  • Bigăr Waterfall is often cited as one of the most beautiful and unique waterfalls in the world, and as such, it has become a popular tourist destination.
  • Bigăr Waterfall is exactly halfway between the North Pole and the Equator, on the 45th parallel.
  • Local myth states that Bigăr Waterfall is actually the hair of a young, love-struck girl, forbidden to love a boy named Bigăr, and in despair, the girl’s tears and hair were turned into a waterfall, where Bigăr drowned.
  • Bigăr Waterfall is fed by an underground spring in a nearby cave, and spills into the Miniş River.
Bibliography:
Bigar Waterfall, 2016, Atlas Obscura, http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/bigar-waterfall
Bigar Waterfall, 2016, Thousand Wonders, http://www.thousandwonders.net/Big%C4%83r+Waterfall
Condrea D, Bigar Waterfall: The Magic of a World Famous Attraction, 2016, Uncover Romania, http://www.uncover-romania.com/attractions/nature/bigar-waterfall.html

 

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