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Diving where few men have dived before

Posted By Viva Sarah Press On February 20, 2012 @ 12:00 am In Explore Israel | No Comments

Photo courtesy of Dead Sea Divers
No fish or coral, but an amazing ice-like view.

The first time Avraham Bresler was asked to dive in the Dead Sea, he was being paid to purge an air pocket in an underground pipe. More than 20 years later, he is still plunging into waters often deemed unfit for scuba divers.

What’s more, Bresler runs tours for extreme diving fans in the cloudy Dead Sea.

“The water is warm but it’s as if you’re in the Antarctic. Everything is white; it looks like you’re diving in ice. The water glitters because of all the salt. It really is another world,” Bresler tells ISRAEL21c.

The Dead Sea has always been one of Israel’s most popular destinations. It is the lowest point on Earth and a place renowned for its vistas, healing powers and natural beauty.

The 47-year-old Bresler never dreamed of turning the Dead Sea into an extreme water-sport destination. Rather, diving is his profession. But then, out of nowhere, a Japanese television crew asked him whether it was possible to film in the Dead Sea. They wanted to verify whether cucumbers could be pickled in the salty water (they could, but Bresler says they were “not very tasty”).

The idea of bringing tourists to dive here popped into Bresler’s head while he was watching the crew film. “I stayed awake all night with this idea,” he recounts. “I bought the domain name [www.deadseadivers.com] in the middle of the night.”

Safety first, adventure second

The diving tours that Bresler offers to local and international tourists are meant for seasoned divers – and the super adventurous — only. Would-be participants must log at least 50 dives before signing up for a Dead Sea dive.

Photo courtesy of Dead Sea Divers
Avraham Bresler readying a diver.

The salinity in the Dead Sea is approximately 35 percent. Add to that the need for a full-face scuba mask and nearly 100 pounds of weights, plus all the usual gear, and it’s understandable why Dead Sea Divers has such strict rules about who’s qualified to dive.

“Our mission is to take sport divers with experience and teach them how to use the full-face mask, which most divers aren’t used to,” says Bresler. “We pride ourselves on providing a safe, fun and rewarding adventurous and touristic experience.”

The Dead Sea borders Jordan, the Palestinian Authority area and Israel.

But it is only on the Israeli side that scuba diving is available. After all, Israelis love extreme sports.

“It’s true; Israelis have a name for taking challenges,” says Bresler. “But we don’t risk anything in scuba diving in the Dead Sea. This is a challenge, not a risk. All scuba divers have a need for experiencing something special.”

Photo courtesy of Dead Sea Divers
Divers need full-face masks and 100 pounds of weight because of the: extreme salinity.

“It’s really amazing,” says a German diver quoted on Dead Sea Divers’ website. “It’s so different from any other diving. It’s so beautiful. A wonderful experience.”

A million diamonds

Divers know in advance that sharks, manta rays, pretty coral and colorful fish won’t be spotted.

Then what makes the underwater scenery so amazing?

“The salt consolidation is breathtaking,” reports Bresler. “On a clear day you can expect to see the salt crystals shining like a million diamonds.”

Though he has logged hundreds of dives in some of the world’s most beautiful scuba spots, Bresler believes that the Dead Sea is among the most magical diving destinations on the planet.

“This is a professional diving experience. Marine life is not always the reason to dive. In caves or ice diving, you do it to prove you can and enjoy the challenge,” he says. “Here, the power of the salt crystals and the unbelievable scenery are the attraction.”

Bresler heads a small family underwater and marine service company called Bresler Sea Works, of which Dead Sea Divers is a sub-department. The father of three regularly dives into the Dead Sea to fix underwater pipes and whatnot.

But every Wednesday and Thursday, throughout the year, Bresler has two fun days of taking visitors for a dive of a lifetime.

His operation has attracted divers from Europe, North America and Israel.

Bresler’s Cave

A few months back, while doing a job for the Dead Sea Works company underwater, he happened upon a cave. Today it’s known as Bresler’s Cave.

“It’s very rare to find a cave in this area,” Bresler tells ISRAEL21c. “It’s hard to get to – it’s an operation to get there. No tourists have gone there yet. I don’t want to take a chance.”

Bresler’s find was followed by another surprise discovery. Last October, scientists from the Hebrew University and Ben-Gurion University announced that they found new varieties of microorganisms, some never before described by science, in the waters of the Dead Sea.

And though this unique body of water did not make the official New Seven Wonders of the World list, Bresler is sure this site deserves the credit.

“The underwater environment in the Dead Sea is like another world,” says Bresler. “You’re a little part of the great world of nature.”

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