On a hot day, many people enjoy cooling off at the nearest body of water, be it a lake, river, or sea. While floating in the water might be relaxing, what lies below and around swimmers might make people consider sticking to dry land. Sea life, dangerous currents, and even chemical weapons could be lurking below water-goers, and dangerous storms could suddenly appear out of nowhere, creating large waves and extremely hazardous conditions.
While there's always a danger of drowning around any amount of water due to accidents, some bodies of water take danger to another level. Even accomplished swimmers and boaters may struggle in conditions in some areas, and the exceedingly high rates of fatality in these bodies of water prove they are some of the most dangerous. Danger doesn't always mean aggressive sea life or rip currents, however, and some lakes or seas may simply have an excess of contamination that can make people sick. A few even have bacteria so dangerous it's been known to claim lives. It's always important to follow water safety, watch for posted warnings, and listen to the instructions of lifeguards or the Coast Guard, but swimmers, boaters, and beach-goers visiting these spots should take extra care.
As part of the 1945 Potsdam Agreement, Allied forces took weapons away from Germany and dumped them into the Baltic Sea so no one could get their hands on them. Back then, no one apparently thought it was an issue to litter the sea with 65,000 tons of potenitally hazardous material. In 2013, scientists discovered that the sea bed off the coast of Poland contained trace amounts of mustard gas, meaning the hazardous material may finally be returning.
Researchers are not only concerned that the weapons are leaking, but they've also discovered hazardous materials in places where they shouldn't be. This means scientists have no idea exactly where the dangerous weapons are, and it will be that much harder to clean them up. Considering that the leaks taint the water and fish, thus contaminating the food chain, the forgotten WWII relics could pose a grave danger to the environment and anything, or anybody, in the water.
As a major tourist destination between Asia and Eastern Europe, millions of people visit the beaches, resorts, and islands of the Black Sea each year. The sea's surface may inspire many an Instagram photo, but beneath the surface water lies an area much creepier. The Black Sea is a meromictic body of water, which means it features separate layers of water that do not mix together.
While the water on the surface is friendly to visitors, the layer of water below it is completely devoid of oxygen. Nothing can survive in this zone, and creatures or ships that fall into the area take a long time to decompose. Shipwrecks and the remains of those who have drowned may still be seen hundreds of years after sinking. This gave rise to rumors and stories that the Black Sea is home to the deceased who lurk in its deep waters. When you really think about it, who wants to swim in that?
Nestled between Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank, the Dead Sea is popular with tourists due to the lack of sharks and the high concentration of salt in its water, which allows swimmers to easily float. This unique feature has also led to stories that it's impossible to drown in its waters, but this is unfortunately not true. While swimmers floating on their backs may enjoy the buoyancy, if someone decides to swim facedown or trips and lands in the water face first, it could be dangerous.
Containing 10 times more salt than the ocean, the water of the Dead Sea is extremely dense. This is what allows people and objects to float, but it also hinders them from being able to maneuver in the water. People who wind up facedown will struggle to right themselves as the dense water won't allow them to move their lower body downward. It's also possible for swimmers to accidentally swallow some of the highly salty water, which could disrupt their balance of electrolytes, hurt their organs, and essentially poison them. Needing rescue from the Dead Sea is unfortunately relatively common, and lifeguards rescued 21 people from drowning in 2010 alone.
The warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico bring tourists and beach-goers to its shores every year, but little do they know that they might be swimming with flesh-eating bacteria. Because the water is warm and increases in temperature slightly each year due to global warming, bacteria like Vibrio vulnificus and Group A streptococcus have less difficulty growing. These bacteria and others thrive in the salty, warm water and tend to gather where rivers enter the gulf.
They infect people after being consumed in raw shellfish, and can also use open wounds to enter the bodies of those who take a dip in the water. Once inside, the bacteria can cause necrotizing fasciitis, which infects and destroys tissues, including skin and internal organs. Infected people may have less than 72 hours to get treatment, which can include antibiotics, surgery, or possibly amputation before the condition becomes fatal. Don't cancel your trip to the beach just yet, though. While flesh-eating bacteria makes headlines and can induce nightmares, necrotizing fasciitis is actually pretty rare.