Why Is the Dead Sea Called the Dead Sea?

The Dead Sea is a popular tourist attraction in Israel, but how did it get its name? Read further to find out.

By Alice Bassett
Kelli Harris
Edited by Kelli Harris

Published December 30, 2021.

The Dead Sea is one of Israel's most popular tourist attractions, famous for its salt content and being the lowest point on Earth. The Dead Sea sits at 1 385 feet (422 meters) below sea level and is eight times saltier than seawater.

Where is the Dead Sea?

The Dead Sea lies to the east of Israel and the west of Jordan, having its land rights shared by both. You can absolutely get into the water, but getting there is a little bit tricky. There are specific beaches along the shore of Israel that are prohibited due to dangerous sinkholes, but there are cablecars that will take you to the right spot.

While you can get into the water, you cannot physically swim in the Dead Sea. You will float due to the high salt content of the water. In simple terms, the salt causes the water to be denser than regular water, and thus anything placed on top will float instead of sinking.

Can Anything Survive in the Dead Sea?

There is no marine life in the Dead Sea, as the high levels of salt create an environment that is not conducive to life. One organism does live in the Dead Sea, called Haloferax volcanii, which thrives in the water's high salinity.

The water is excellent for human skin, as it detoxifies and clears out impurities, much like a saltwater face mask would.

How the Dead Sea Got Its Name

Simply put, the Dead Sea is "dead" because no aquatic animals can live in the water. This lack of marine and plant life is the sole reason for the name.