Alive on the Dead Sea

Hundreds of small springs support the various flora and fauna, here in the lowest point on earth.

Einot Tzukim (photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)
Einot Tzukim
(photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)
Along the original coastline of the northern Dead Sea, on Highway 90, there is a very special nature reserve – Einot Tzukim, also known as Ein Fash’ha.
This 6.5-km. reserve lives on the freshwater of many springs.
The receding sea, which erodes 30-50 meters each year, continues to leave Einot Tzukim far behind.
Nonetheless, hundreds of small springs support the various flora and fauna, here in the lowest point on earth.
In the spring water we find a few rare fish species, among them Israeli tilapia. The tilapia comes from a family that protects its young in its mouth – but not to worry, it doesn’t swallow them. Another scarce species is the small Arabian Killfish, endemic to Israel; this fish, Navit Hamelehot in Hebrew, is not found anywhere else in the world.
The water attracts more than 200 insect species, among them some beautiful dragonflies, damselflies, beetles, wasps and ants. The tropical species of the weaver ant can be found on the reserve; it is the most northern point on the globe to see it.
There are 12 bat species that feed on the abundance and variety of insects in the park. Birds also love this habitat; they nest here and pass through during the autumn and spring migration. A number of predators also find their food in the reserve, including the jackal, mongoose, fox and wolf. So it would be accurate to say there is a lot alive on the edge of the Dead Sea.
Einot Tzukim is divided into three sections. The northern section is closed to visitors, while the middle one has four pools for swimming.
Though 30 years ago you could put your legs directly into the saltwater of the Dead Sea, the receding coastline no longer allows that. The reserve’s southern section is open to guided hikes, provided by park rangers who explain all about the interesting phenomena, including geologic, historic and natural facts.
In the center of this trail of the hidden reserve there is a pool 1.5 meters deep, which attracts a variety of wildlife; if you keep quiet and motionless, there is a good chance of seeing some of it. The reserve suffered a large fire in 2008, and the healing process from the damage is ongoing. Donkeys were introduced to nibble on the lower vegetation, to prevent future risk of fire in this hot region.
Einot Tzukim is an important reserve, unique in the world; the park is testimony to the ability of natural life to fight back and cling to harsh environments while fighting off man-made threats. Yet one must not forget that these limits can only be pushed so far.