15 Most Dangerous Waters in the World

12 min

We all know that water can be dangerous! I mean, even the simple kitchen sink variety can result in nasty skin conditions, but what about vast amounts of the stuff, like rivers and oceans? A wide range of nasty creatures call these waters home, but so too do algae and other toxins. From the home of the seas most dangerous creatures, to the lakeside retreat with incredibly high radiation levels, here are 15 Most Dangerous Waters in the World.

15-  Bering Sea

There is no question that fishermen are a tough bunch, working in some of the harshest conditions the environment can throw at them. The Bering Sea is one example. A natural wonder, this ocean paradise can turn on the charm at the touch of a button, it can also be equally as dangerous.

Located near the chain of the Aleutian Islands, the Bering Sea is where humans and nature collide. Classed as one of the most intense patches of ocean on the planet, these waters are home to strong winds and below freezing temperatures.

Ferocious waves and icy cold water make conditions even more treacherous for the fisherman, particularly during the winter months.

Fall into the water and the likelihood of survival is greatly reduced. Pair the ferocious waves of water that can rise and fall 30 feet on a normal day, with the bitterly cold water, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Not only that, some of the creatures below the waves are so terrifying, the very thought will make your toes curl!

“Some of the most dangerous sea creatures in the world live in the Bering Sea, just like this one caught in the same sea we are talking about! What is this thing? Is it a shark… is it Megalodon? Maybe it’s an edited photo? Who knows? Whatever it is, I want it far away from me…The teeth on this thing don’t look too friendly either…” 

So why do fishermen return to the Bering Sea time and time again? Well, the region is considered one of the most productive in the world for fishers of salmon, char, and crab. 

I don’t know about you, but they’d have to be worth a fortune for me to consider dipping as much as a toe in the Bering Sea!

14- Russia’s Lake Karachay

Lakeside retreats can be an expensive business, but you can pick them up for a bargain, if you look hard enough.

In fact, there is a villa within spitting distance of Russia’s beautiful Lake Karachay, so cheap, you can buy it for cash.

As with anything that sounds to good to be true, there is more to this bargain than meets the eye.

The catch here is that standing on the shore for little more than an hour will kill you. 

Considered one of the most polluted places on earth, the lake was once a dumping ground for some of the Soviet Union’s biggest nuclear weapons.

This beautiful lake is now completely contaminated with radioactive waste.

The nearby Techa river was also severely contaminated. Several villages, who relied on the river for water were struck down with radiation sickness, however they were all sworn to secrecy and their notes classified until the early 1990s.

It was only in 1992 after President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree to allow Western scientists access, that the area was declared the planet’s most polluted.

Today Lake Karachay’s surface is now more concrete than water, a real shame, given its obvious beauty and previous popularity as a watering hole for the masses.

13- Lake Kivu

When you think of explosions of deadly gas, you might be forgiven for imagining they’re of the human-kind.

Unfortunately, when it comes to Africa’s Lake Kivu, nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, humans are none too keen to hang around this lake, let alone break wind alongside it.

Rather than enjoying the sound of the water lapping at your feet, you may witness a potential explosion of deadly gas instead!

Yes, these lake waters, located between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, are literally dripping in methane and carbon dioxide thanks to the area’s volcanic activity.

And with 60 million cubic meters of the stuff, this lake is deadly.

But rather than walk away with their head in their hands, Rwanda is turning the giant reservoir of gas into a positive by funneling the methane into power plants.

While it’s all good for now, the presence of gas is still tremendously dangerous.

A strong event like an earthquake could bring the methane and carbon dioxide bubbling to the surface, like fizz in a shaken pop bottle. Not ideal for the two million people that live on the lake shore!

12-  Potomac River 

An intriguing stretch of water, surrounded by harsh rock faces, the Potomac River Gorge and the Great Falls of the Potomac are a thrill-seekers paradise! Unfortunately, it takes a true dare devil to even survive the raging rapids here.

It looks like the perfect destination for canoeists and white-water rafting enthusiasts, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Situated in the eastern U.S., just outside the nation’s capital, the Gorge has become increasingly popular over the years.

This is a real concern for the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) who have issued a dire warning for those entering the water.

Their very pointed message: “if you enter the river, you will die’, seems to have fallen on deaf ears with the Gorge claiming six lives in 2009.

The skills required to navigate parts of the river and the falls, vary greatly, with even first responders put in great danger when their services are required.

Considered one of the deadliest stretches of white water on the eastern border, the Potomac River Gorge makes up a whopping 14-miles of the Potomac River. With cascading rapids and several 20-foot waterfalls, the falls are both spectacular and dramatic.

A popular site with residents and tourists from throughout the world, the Great Falls of the Potomac river holds plenty of hazards for the unwary or unprepared. In fact, entering these waters minus the exceptional skills required to navigate them, is very unwise.

The water may appear calm, but the currents are very deceiving. 

11- World’s Dirtiest River (citarum)

If you’re not big on germs, and don’t like getting your hands dirty, it might be a good idea to avoid this river in West Java, Indonesia.

Classed as the world’s dirtiest river, the clean-up of the Citarum has now become a military operation.

Yes, it’s that bad, the military have been called in to help. And with a timeline of up to five years, it’s easy to see why the heavy artillery had to be called upon.

Critics of President Joko Widodo who launched the clean-up campaign, believe it was more a publicity stunt than an ecological decision, however the huge task has provided many jobs and helped to drive down pollution in the area.

West Java is the heartland of Indonesian manufacturing, and industrial zones, with the Ministry of Industry Indonesia, believing the area is responsible for more than 14 per cent of the Southeast Asian nation’s gross domestic product. 

Access to cheap and plentiful water is key to the area’s rapid growth, with some 2,800 factories relying on the Citarum for their water supply and disposal of wastewater.

Factories are required to clean up their wastewater before flushing it back into the water, however minimal enforcement of the law has led to the dumping of toxic and hazardous chemicals into both the Citarum and adjoining canals, effectively turning the water into a toxic swamp.

Until the clean-up is completed, residents will continue to encounter the heavily polluted water, a task that leaves them with nasty rashes – no surprises there, given the toxicity levels in the river.

According to Professor Etty Rani from the Department of Water Resources Management, the news isn’t all bad, as you can still eat the fish, but just not too often.

I don’t know about you, but the thought of eating fish from this river doesn’t really appeal.

10- Jacob’s Well

On a scorching hot summer day, nothing beats the cool depths of a local watering hole, but it pays to be careful when choosing a destination for diving.

A natural wonder in Texas, where many come to chill out during the warmer months, Jacob’s Well, is also classed as one of the most dangerous diving spots in the world!

A label like this doesn’t come easily, so what makes this place so unsafe?

The refreshing and beautiful spring has temperatures of around 68 degrees Fahrenheit all year round, but it’s not just the heat-stricken that visit Jacob’s Well.

Below the surface is an intricate cave system.

Most visitors to Jacob’s Well prefer to lounge around on the edge, relaxing in the cold, clear water. Others leap into the well, with the daredevils among them free diving, some as deep as 100 feet, maneuvering the thin openings into the underwater cave.

Although it sounds like a lot of fun, exploring the cave is an adventure kept for licensed scuba divers only. Those who dare explore the depths without the skills required, could end up losing their lives. 

Many divers have been trapped below the surface and died, earning the well the reputation of being one of the most dangerous places to dive. 

9-  Lake Natron

Calcified corpses, perfectly preserved on the shoreline of Lake Natron in Tanzania, proved inspirational for photographer Nick Brandt.

Upon facing the eerie sight of birds lying on the earth as still and stiff as statues, Brandt knew he was onto a winner for his new photo book ‘Across the Ravaged Land’.

A variety of birds and bats that had met their untimely demise at the hands of the deadly waters beneath them, are bought to life in the third and final volume in Brandt’s trilogy of books documenting the disappearing natural world and animals of East Africa.

With the exact cause of their death unknown, Brandt believes their preservation is likely due to the extremely high soda and salt content, a content so high it stripped the ink off his film boxes in a matter of seconds!

The water is blood-red from the bacteria that live in it, but the area serves as a breeding ground for the endangered Lesser Flamingo. An odd combination, considering Lake Natron is considered inhospitable to life.

The salt lake is also steaming hot, with temperatures reaching up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This lake truly is too hot to handle!

8-  The Boiling Lake, Dominica

With a name like ‘Boiling Lake’ there are no surprises why this stretch of water, located on the Caribbean Island of Dominica, would make the list of Most Dangerous Waters in the World.

Simply a hole in the earth’s crust, the bubbling body of water has been flooded by rainfall over the years. 

Fed by two small streams, the lake is heated by underwater lava and gases from the nearby volcano.

With temperatures reaching up to 197 degrees Fahrenheit, even a brief encounter with this boiling lake would prove fatal.

A spectacular sight, the lake is a popular destination for hikers who can view the lake actively boiling.

A hike of several hours will have you enjoying the natural wonder, said to be the second largest boiling lake on the planet, measuring 200 feet across.

It comes as no surprise that a cloud of vapors can be seen hovering above the lake, not unlike that of a boiling bath.

The lake is thought to exceed 200 feet in depth, depending on rainfall levels in the area, not that anyone will be hopping in to confirm this fact anytime soon, and there is no surprises why!

7- Blue Lagoon of Buxton

Not unlike a scene from the ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’, a 1954 American black-and-white 3D monster horror film, this blue lagoon in Buxton is filled with creatures of a different kind.

A former quarry, it was flooded, creating the perfect swimming hole. With turquoise water that turned green as limestone rocks leach calcite crystals into it, it was simply too alluring for residents and visitors to resist.

A toxic soup filled with cars, animal carcasses, and trash, this beautifully deceiving lagoon is effectively used as a dumping ground.

This fact hasn’t put people off swimming there, however, so the town dyed it black to put them off.

When that didn’t work, signs were erected warning swimmers to stay clear.

Now if you saw signs saying, ‘Warning! Polluted water’, “Car Wrecks, Dead Animals, Excrement, Rubbish’, would you still be keen to jump into the lagoon for a quick dip? I know I wouldn’t!

Worse still, because of the rubbish dumped there, its pH levels are 11.3, almost the same as a bottle of bleach! Fancy skin and eye irritations, stomach problems, or perhaps a fungal infection? Well this lagoon can help you out with all of that.

Just jump on in and hold your breath, you’re likely in for a nasty surprise!

6- Yorkshire

An innocent-looking river in Yorkshire hides a nasty secret, one that will have you questioning whether to enter its depths.

It has the grim label of a 100 per cent fatality rate!

A lovely spot for a picnic or walk, The River Wharfe in Yorkshire narrows at a point called the Strid, near Bolton Abbey.

Many have jumped across it, but those who fall never make it, as the river turns on its side, gouging out passages and tunnels. A mass of deadly currents, anyone that falls in is repeatedly thrashed against the rocks under the water.

If the swimmer isn’t pulverized by the rocks, vortices in the Strid’s flow will trap their body under the water.

It’s literally a death trap!

Though the river has claimed a lot of lives, it’s not the grim statistics that make the Strid so dangerous. It’s the fact that its threats lie beneath a calm and tempting surface.

Beautiful, but dangerous. Although tempting, it will kill you. 

5-  Great Blue Hole 

The world’s biggest ocean sinkhole, the Great Blue Hole off the coast of Belize measures 1,000 feet across and over 400 feet deep. 

Once a limestone cave formed thousands of years ago, it was completely submerged at the end of the last ice age.

Now a popular diving site, mystery surrounded its internal structure until December last year, when an expedition led by submersible pilot Erika Bergman, took place.

Billionaire Richard Branson, sonar expert Marth Atherton, and Fabien Cousteau, legendary explorer Jacques Cousteau’s grandson; joined Erika on her expedition to explore the bottom of the chasm.

Researchers released the first 3D maps of its interior and a minidocumentary about their findings. The dive shed new light on the ancient formation, describing what it was like dropping through the hydrogen sulfate layer—beneath which there is no oxygen.

Sea life will not pass through the layer that sits at a depth of 290 feet and covers the entire Blue Hole.

With no oxygen, anything that falls into the hole is preserved, including humans.

The team found the bodies of two divers who had been lost in the hole, along with hundreds of marks where they had tried to escape and old scientific equipment and a GoPro with footage still intact.

After notifying local authorities, the divers were left undisturbed to rest in peace for eternity.

4- New Smyrna

With a population estimate of 27,229 in 2018, New Smyrna Beach is a small city in Volusia County, Florida.

Part of the city is located on the west side of the Indian River and the Indian Lagoon system, which links up with the Intracoastal Waterway just south of Ponce de Leon Inlet.

Recognized as ‘one of the world’s top 20 surf towns’ in 2012, New Smyrna Beach offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation. Visitors participate in a range of water sports, including scuba diving, kite surfing, sailing and good old-fashioned swimming.

This is a surprising factor, given that as well as being one of the world’s top 20 surf towns, it also carries the grim record of having the most confirmed shark attacks of any other region in the world!

If you weren’t already aware, there is such a thing as an ‘International Shark Attack File’. This file is maintained by the University of Florida, and it states that in 2007, Volusia County, of which Smyrna Beach is a city, gained the somewhat dubious distinction as the world’s shark-bite capital.

Unfortunately, the trend has continued with the town breaking its own record in 2008, with 24 shark bites. 

And in 2016, a shark bit three different surfers in the span of a few hours at the same beach!

It might have been an idea to close the beach, following the first attack, don’t you think?

3- Hanakapiai Beach

When you’re dreaming of holidaying on a tropical island, Hawaii is probably one destination that comes to mind. With images of its clear blue waters and tropical fish dancing through your head, you’d be forgiven for thinking the beaches here are anything but dangerous. But you’d be wrong.

Listed as one of the most dangerous places to swim on the planet, Hanakapiai Beach in Hawaii, is to be avoided.

Don’t be fooled by its peaceful coastline and idyllic setting, this beach is a killer. In fact, take one step into the ocean and you’ve entered the danger zone!

Rip currents that can quickly drag you from the shore, are hidden beneath the serene water. More than 80 people have drowned there, and with no visual cues of the danger lying under the waves, the risk is difficult to spot. 

Looks are definitely deceiving here. For your own safety, you should avoid taking a quick dip at Hanakapiai Beach, no matter how tempting it looks. 

2- The Berkeley Pit

Labelled the most contaminated water body in the United States, the Berkeley Pit in Montana finally received a much-needed makeover early last year.

For the first time in 37 years, the Berkeley Pit was unable to collect water, but instead three million gallons per day were pumped out and treated.

Mining company Montana Resources allowed the water to run through the mine’s new wastewater treatment system, stripping it of metal and chemical residue.

The pit, which was effectively a 900-foot hole in the ground, is said to hold about 45 billion gallons of water.

The entire system wasn’t completely operational, so pumping and treating stopped around the end of May and was expected to resume in July.

Despite delays, the project is still four years ahead of schedule, with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requesting the pumping and treatment of water to start by 2023.

Once construction is completed, the water will be treated to the standard needed to release it into Silver Bow Creek. All equipment and pipelines will be tested, and the results given to the EPA who will need to approve the release.

1- Bermuda Triangle 

Unexplained disappearances linked to extraterrestrial activity have had humans questioning the existence of the Bermuda Triangle for several decades.

Many ships, planes, and even people have allegedly vanished under mysterious circumstances in the same location. 

Located in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean, the area was named the Bermuda Triangle.

Still merely a myth, it is said to suck objects into other dimensions, where extraterrestrials take humans to study.

Scientists, however, have other explanations, including oceanic flatulence, disruptions in geomagnetic lines and rapid, sometimes violent, changes in weather conditions that have been known to claim many ships.

The U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard contend that there are no supernatural explanations for disasters at sea.  

The ocean has always been a mysterious place to humans, and when foul weather or poor navigation is involved, the combination can be deadly. 

There is, however, no evidence that mysterious disappearances are more frequent in the Bermuda Triangle than in any other large, well-traveled stretch of water in the world. 

An explosion of deadly gas, and not the human type, is likely to send people fleeing for safety. But when its infused with methane, carbon dioxide and effectively deadly to humans, it’s best to steer clear. The lake in Rwanda, effected by volcanic activity, should be avoided at all costs, but it’s clearly not the only water way with a deadly curse!

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