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Meet the Jacuzzi of Despair, an Underwater Lake So Salty, It’ll Kill Everything That Swims Through It

Hope Dory doesn’t “keep swimming” into these waters anytime soon!

Meet the Jacuzzi of Despair, an Underwater Lake So Salty, It’ll Kill Everything That Swims Through It
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Underwater lakes are one of Mother Nature’s greatest gifts and mysteries. They give scientists a glimpse of the uncharted marine world that’s waiting to be explored. Some of these lakes look mystical and heavenly while others are just a tad bit eerie and odd. Recently, scientists have discovered an underwater lake known as the ‘Jacuzzi of Despair’. *Cue dramatic music*

Researchers first discovered the lake 1,006m below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico in 2014. The discovery was made by a San Pedro-based research vessel, the E/V Nautilus. The lake is actually a brine pool, a body of water that is four to five times saltier than the surrounding seawater. The toxic underwater cauldron also contains deadly chemicals such as methane gas and hydrogen sulfide. Any critters that unsuspectingly swim into this brine will die a sad, painful death.

It seems like crabs are the most common victims that fall prey to the deadly pool. “These larger organisms really don’t like to be in this fluid — or maybe they just come here to die,” a scientist can be heard saying in the video.

RIP Mr.Crab (Image: OET/NautilusLive)
“It was one of the most amazing things in the deep sea,” Erik Cordes, Temple University's associate professor of biology who discovered the site along with several colleagues, told Discovery News. “You go down into the bottom of the ocean and you are looking at a lake or a river flowing. It feels like you are not in this world.”

Image: The Oceanography Society
The underwater lake formed over millions of years ago and as the gulf began evaporating from time to time, it left behind massive beds of salt. When these now-submerged salt layers shift and crack, they allow oil and gas trapped in the shale to escape while seawater mixes with the sediment below. Consequently, a super-salty brine that’s so dense, it doesn’t easily mix with the seawater around it. The brine then pools into underwater lakes, rivers and “spectacular” waterfalls, reported the scientists.

Interestingly, mussels are one of the bravest marine life that likes living on the edge. Literally. Mussels have found a way to live around the toxic pool’s edge. It is said that mussels have bacteria in their gills that eat the hydrogen sulfide. Apart from mussels, various bacteria, tube worms, and brine shrimp are the only known marine life forms that can live within these fatal, murky waters.

Image: OET/NautilusLive
Image: OET/NautilusLive
Scientists have yet to discover the depth of the pool to date. Who knows, maybe there’s a secret portal that leads to another undiscovered underwater world at the bottom of the pool.