Why the 18 most beautiful waters in the world are also the most dangerous
The outdoor swimming season is over for the year once again, which is a shame, but we can also be happy that during the summer, we didn't accidentally come across one of these seemingly romantic and apparently inviting stretches of water.
Because while they are all — without a doubt — incredibly beautiful to look at, a dip into their depths can easily prove fatal...
1. The Black Hole of Andros
The Black Hole of Andros in the Bahamas is nearly 155 ft deep and looks amazing, but the water there is so strongly sulfurous, that it is perilous to swim in it or even go diving.
2. Jacob's Well in Texas
This fascinating natural spring in Texas is only about 30 ft deep, but don't let that fool you. Simply swimming there is no more dangerous than anywhere else, but anyone diving down to the bottom will quickly find an intertwined network of tunnels and caves. All too many who have ventured in unprepared, have not found the way out in time.
3. The Great Blue Hole in Belize
The Great Blue Hole off the coast of Belize in Central America looks like an actual waterpark. But appearances can be deceiving: the shimmering blue circle is practically irresistible to scuba divers and many let themselves be taken on unwise trips to the depths by dubious dive leaders — even if they are tired, hungover and without much diving experience. The Great Blue Hole has already become a death trap for all too many amateur divers.
4. Lake Michigan
The vast Lake Michigan has shores in four US states — Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. Since 1950, when a plane with 58 people on board crashed into the lake, and neither the wreck nor the passengers were ever found, the lake has come to be seen as a kind of second Bermuda Triangle. On top of this, its treacherous currents claim the lives of several dozen unwary swimmers every year.
5. Horseshoe Lake at Mammoth Mountain
The idyllic-seeming Horseshoe Lake in the Mammoth Mountain area in California has its neat, curved shape to thank for its name, but it's not as harmless as it appears. Carbon dioxide rising from the lake bed has not only cost four people their lives, but even led to trees along the shoreline dying off. Numerous signs warn hikers ignorant of the dangers not to venture too close.
6. The Blue Hole of Dahab
The Blue Hole of Dahab in Egypt is considered one of the most dangerous dive sites in the world. Time again, careless divers there fall victim to the high partial pressure of nitrogen underwater, succumbing to the "rapture of the deeps" or nitrogen narcosis. As a result, they rapidly lose their sense of position and direction, and suffer from distorted perception — which can have fatal consequences. Since the beginning of diving tourism in the area, around 300 divers have perished in the beautiful blue waters — which is the highest number of diving disasters in one place anywhere in the world.
7. The Río Tinto
The Río Tinto (the Red River of Andalusia) in Andalusia in southwestern Spain gets its extraordinary coloring from the minerals of an ore deposit. Sulfide minerals oxidize in the water thanks to bacteria, producing sulfuric acid. This not only colors the water a glowing red (almost like lava), but it makes the water so acidic that only a few acid-loving microorganisms can survive in it. You are strongly advised not to bathe there. On the other hand, marveling at this brightly-colored river is definitely encouraged.
8. Dominica's Boiling Lake
The legendary Boiling Lake on the Caribbean island of Dominica is immediately recognizable as a sight best admired from a respectful distance. The water of the lake comes from volcanic sources and is so hot that, up until now, its temperature has never been successfully measured. Swimming is — of course — strictly forbidden.
9. The Bolton Strid in Yorkshire
With its moss-covered stones, the Bolton Strid in the county of Yorkshire in England seems like a picturesque stream directly out of a fairytale. But its beauty hides how dangerous it is — no one who has fallen into the river has been pulled out alive. Its treacherous, swirling currents, its varying depths and the power of the water quickly pull people under the surface. According to legend, everyone who has ever ventured into the river has drowned.
10. Lake Kivu in Rwanda
Lake Kivu in Rwanda in Central Africa seems peaceful and inviting, but contains high concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane in its depths. Since the 1970s, the water's methane content has risen dramatically. If levels continue to rise at the same rate between now and the end of the 21st century, it could lead to a gas eruption that would cost the lives of everyone in the surrounding areas.
11. Karachay Lake in the Urals
Karachay Lake in the southern Urals in Russia looks storybook beautiful, but just an hour swimming in its waters would be a guaranteed death sentence. Over the years, such an incredible amount of radioactive waste was dumped in the lake that the radiation levels are fatally high for any unprotected person, even after just one hour. Anyone stopping in the region around the lake risks developing severe radiation sickness.
12. Mono Lake in California
Mono Lake in California is another that appears beautifully enchanting, but its water is extremely alkaline and incredibly salty. Since the 1940s, when Los Angeles sourced its drinking water from the drainage basin of the lake, the water level sank ever further, while the salt concentration increased. Only a certain kind of shrimp, a type of algae and some flies can still survive in and on the water. A bathing trip is definitely not a good idea.
13. Lake Monoun in Cameroon
In August 1984, a large amount of carbon dioxide suddenly burst out of Lake Monoun in the Western Province of Cameroon in Africa, killing 37 people in the surrounding area. Since 2003, the now carbon dioxide-saturated water is pumped up from the bottom of the lake in order to prevent a renewed build up of the gas. However, the air by the lake still contains dangerously high levels of carbon dioxide.
14. Lake Nyos in Cameroon
Lake Nyos, which is also in Cameroon, is also deadly dangerous for an incredibly similar reason. In 1986, the almost circular crater lake (it's inside an inactive volcano) suddenly released a tremendous amount of carbon dioxide, killing around 1,700 people up to 17 miles away. Since 2001, controlled gas drainage via pipes has also been in place here to prevent such a tragedy happening in future.
15. The Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri
The Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri could be as harmless and idyllic as it looks — if there were no people there. Since there are no police patrols supervising boat traffic, and motorboats and yachts there sometimes race around so recklessly, smaller boats or swimmers in the lake are in grave danger. It's known as the third most dangerous body of water in the USA.
16. The Tualatin River in Oregon
The bluish green water of the Tualatin River in Oregon gets its color from a type of algae that is rampant in the region. It has already taken the lives of more than a dozen dogs that went swimming in the river. Humans should also take great care: anyone who swallows even a little of the mesmerizing, pretty, turquoise-colored water will have to deal with nausea and diarrhea. Any more than that and the consequences can include paralysis and even death. Large amounts of clean water are pumped into the river, in order to keep the concentration of the harmful algae low, but it stubbornly grows back time and again.
17. The Blue Lagoon in Derbyshire
When a stone quarry in Derbyshire in England was flooded, it created something that locals at first welcomed as a stroke of luck: namely, a small, divine-looking lake with such bright blue water, that people quickly dubbed it "the Blue Lagoon" and used it as a beloved summer bathing spot. But bathers were soon quickly disillusioned. The water had a pH value of 11.3 — which is very strongly alkaline and definitely not recommended for the skin. The swimmers quickly developed a range of skin diseases and anyone who had swallowed any of the water had to see the doctor urgently. Junk metal, dead animals and similar garbage also make the water a hideous infection incubator, into which you wouldn't want to dip even one toe.
In order to deter the unwary from bathing, the local authorities opted for an unusual solution: they dyed the water black.
18. Natron Lake in Tanzania
The Natron Lake in Tanzania in Africa lies at the foot of the volcano "Ol Doinyo Lengai." Large amounts of sodium carbonate are dissolved in its waters, which reached the lake as ash from the neighboring volcano. Its alkalinity can reach a pH value of 10.5, its bright red water can reach a temperature of 140°F and its salts preserve the animals that die in and around it in a thick crust.
It's fascinating to see how beauty and danger can so often be found side by side. In all these cases, it's best to appreciate the beauty from a long way away!