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Life in the Dead Sea

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Life in the Dead Sea

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The deepest point on the surface of Earth is the Dead Sea in Israel. Now a joint Israeli-German team of scientists has found several freshwater spring systems on the floor of the Dead Sea.

Their presence has been suspected for decades as concentric ripples on the surface of the water are visible near the shore, but it is only now been confirmed by divers.

30 metres under the surface, equipped with underwater cameras, the divers collected water samples from cracks in the sea floor and discovered cunknown micro-organisms.

Christian Lott, a biologist with the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen, said. “It’s just fascinating, you just go there and normally it’s really strenuous to go there, you just lay on the Dead Sea water and can’t go down and we take lots of weight just to immerse ourselves and then you are down there and you have these spots, you know as a scientist you know it’s just white spots, or coloured spots, but you know that they are bacteria and life forms that have never been looked at and we are the first to investigate, that’s really fascinating.”

Now, the team wants to know how these micro-organisms thrive in an environment which is too salty for other marine life, and which has given the Dead Sea its name. The presence of mats of bacteria covering large parts of the sea bed dates back to the 1930s, but the high salt concentration in the land-locked sea made scientific diving difficult. The team is currently in the process of publishing the preliminary data collected from this first expedition.