The Dead Sea, Salt Sea, is a geological formation belonging to the Great Rift Valley, located between the Jordan Valley to the north and Wadi Arrabah to the South. It separates the Hebron-Jerusalem hills in the west from the mountains of Ammon and Moab, in Jordan, in the east. It serves as a trans-boundary site between Palestine, Jordan and Israel.
The Dead Sea, known at the Salt Sea, Sea of Lot, is a unique natural area situated in the Jordan Rift Valley. The Dead Sea is 85 kilometres long and 17 kilometres wide and covers an area of about 677 square kilometres. Its surface lies about 417m below the sea level, making of the Dead Sea the lowest point on the Earth. In addition to that, the Dead Sea is the world’s saltiest large water body, since its concentration is ten times higher than the Mediterranean. The earliest traces of human habitation at the sea dates back to the Chalcolithic period. It was mentioned in biblical, historical sources, and described by many Greek, Roman and Arab writers.
The entire basin is a spectacular landscape characterized by the abundance of a variety of ecosystems. Among them, semitropical marshland, mudflat and wetlands’ ecosystems are abundant in the north western areas of the Dead Sea and mostly characterized by sites such as Ein-Fashkha and El-Auja areas. Whereas, the western areas of the Dead Sea are belonging to the semi-desert and arid ecosystems, in which its scenic habitats are well represented by interposed springs and wadis that are discharged from different aquifers through the Dead Sea.
Those diverse ecosystems surrounding the Dead Sea made of this area an important site for biodiversity: it is known to be a home for some rare and threatened flora and fauna species. Considering its biogeographically location, the Dead Sea basin is considered as one of the main bird migration routes as well as an important Bird Area in the Middle East, since it hosts a globally threatened bird (Lesser Kestrel) beside other bird species that is known to be threatened or endangered throughout all or large part of their range in the Middle East (such as the Egyptian and Griffon Vultures and Storks).
The Dead Sea area is characterized by the abundance of endemic and endangered animals, including Leopard, Hyrax, Ibex, Hyena, Bats, Arabian Wolf and Egyptian mongoose.
Associated with its ecological interest, the Dead Sea is rich in a wide variety of minerals, attracting millions of visitors wishing to take advantage of the therapeutic qualities of its minerals.
The Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth. Its basin creates a complex unique geological formation, represented by the natural variability of each ecosystem type, and by the substantial variation in species, soil, geology and landform of the different areas that are enclosed by the basin. The Dead Sea is also a graphic manifestation of the forces at play in the Great Rift Valley.
One facet of the uniqueness of the Dead Sea basin in regard to bird migration and biodiversity is the relationship between migration and geology, climate, and habitat as a stopover sites for migrating and wintering birds. The wetlands surrounding the seashores support several species, such as the indigenous “Dead Sea Sparrow”.
The uniqueness of the geological formation of the Dead Sea as a key component of the Great Rift Valley, representing a major stage of earth’s history, as one of the most significant geomorphic and physiographic features of the World.
The absolute specificity of the Dead Sea makes of it an outstanding example of a unique type of coastal and marine ecosystem. A major flyway and stopover region for migratory birds, the Dead Sea also plays a critical role in wider ecological processes.
The steeping slopes and the abundant springs that lead to the Dead Sea, encompassing other unique geological and topographical phenomena and factors, made this area of exceptional natural beauty.
The abundance of many threatened and endangered species in the Dead Sea basin, together with the presence of significant natural habitats, is internationally recognized to embody a high importance for science and on-site nature conservation. BirdLife International had declared the Dead Sea Basin, especially the Jericho area, as an Important Bird Area (IBA) in the Middle East for its global importance as a site that supports one or more high-priority species, large concentration of birds, exceptional habitats; the site has also a substantial research value.