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The Quick 10: 10 Places You Don't Want to Swim

With the high temperatures lately, my neighbor has made a habit of taking midday dips in the kiddie pool in her backyard. (I know this because she sings with the radio and splashes water in rhythm.) Speaking of places I never want to swim, here are ten lakes, pools, and beaches you should approach with caution.

1. Nyriragongo Crater's lava lake

[Photo Credit: Olivier Grunewald]

282 million cubic feet of molten rock won't make for a pleasant game of Marco Polo, but you can probably roast a marshmallow from several hundred yards. The world's largest permanent lava lake rests in one of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga range of Africa. Last year, a team of scientists and explorers survived a journey to the rim of the lake, which is detailed here in a stunning photo essay.

2. Just about any body of water in China

Heavy traffic (both on roads and waterways), industrial pollution, and uncontrolled fertilizer use have contributed to a national water crisis in China. Nearly every major lake and river in the country is currently experiencing toxic green-blue algae bloom. Greenpeace tested waters in 25 regions and found 20 of the samples too high in nitrogen and nitrates to be safe for human use. In fact, the concentrations were so high that the water can't even be used for watering plants or industrial purposes.

3. Lake Karachay, home of the most polluted water on Earth

In Soviet Russia, lake contaminate you. From 1951 until 1968, this small lake in the Ural Mountains was used as a toxic dump site for Mayak, a nuclear waste storage and processing facility. Between 1978 and 1986, the lake was filled with concrete blocks to prevent the shifting of irradiated sediment. In 1990, the radiation level measured more than high enough to deliver a lethal dose to a human within an hour.

4. Any exploding lake

There are only three known exploding lakes in the world: Lake Kivu in Rwanda and Lakes Monoun and Nyos in Cameroon. Created by a dam of volcanic rock, this type of lake lies atop a pool of magma that releases carbon dioxide and methane into the water. On occasion, a large pocket of toxic gas will "explode" from the water (a limnic eruption); this happened in 1984 at Lake Monoun, killing 37 people, and again in 1986 at Lake Nyos, suffocating 1700 people and 3500 livestock.

5. Berkeley Pit, a hole filled with arsenic

Formerly an open-pit copper mine, the Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana, is filled with acidic, highly oxygenated water that leaches heavy metals from the surrounding rock. The Superfund list of contaminants is arsenic, cadmium, copper, zinc, and lead. In 1995, a flock of 342 geese was found dead in the Pit with burns from the water in their internal organs.

6. Laguna Caliente, the pool of sulfuric acid

Volcanoes do crazy things to water. With a pH as low as "slightly below zero," Laguna Caliente (situated in the summit crater of Poás Volcano) is probably the most acidic body of water on the planet. The rain that falls around the area has a pH of 2.0 on average.

7. Lake Vostok, the subglacial window to exoplanetary life

Back in January, Ransom Riggs shared a cool post on Lake Vostok, an oligotropic subglacial lake under the Antarctic. Information collected from ice cores will reveal whether life has survived in isolation for 15 to 24 million years and the probability of life in subsurface water on other planets. Even if scientists discover ice-loving fish below, you can't swim there—the average water temperature is calculated to be -3ºC.

8. Boiling Lake in Dominica. It boils.

Featured in the Angry Planet episode, "Across the Boiling Lake," the flooded fumarole's shore temperature is between 185 and 197ºF, but the central area of the lake hasn't been measured because no one can get there safely. It can be clearly observed that the water is actively boiling, however, so showing off your sweet cannonball skills is probably a bad idea.

9. The Amazon Basin

Even Hank Hill's narrow urethra wouldn't save him from the candiru (or toothpick fish) native to Amazonian waters. Though formal experimentation shows the fish is not attracted to urine (as previously believed), it is in fact small enough to, uh, invade a person. One such incident was documented in 1997; the "River Monsters" episode of Animal Planet investigated the claim, which was fully verified.

10. The Northern and Eastern beaches of Australia

Remember the scene in Finding Nemo when Marlin and Dory are in the jellyfish field? That's a slightly exaggerated idea of what the coastal waters of Australia are like, except these are lethal box jellyfish (and blue-ringed octopus, cone shells, scorpion fish, crocodiles, and sting rays) and you're not an animated fish.

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Move Over, Hygge: Còsagach Is How You Get Cozy In Scotland
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Hygge, a concept related to the warm, contented feeling of being indoors during wintertime, originated in Denmark. But Scotland has made it clear that Danes don’t have a monopoly on coziness. As The Scotsman reports, VisitScotland—the country's national tourism agency—is reviving Còsagach, an old Gaelic term that could unseat the hygge trend this season.

Còsagach, like hygge, is the sensation you get when you’re snug, sheltered, and cozy. According to VisitScotland, Scotland is a popular destination for tourists looking to unwind, and the organization predicts that Còsagach will be a hot trend with visitors in 2018.

“It’s no secret that Scotland can have, at times, rather harsh and ferocious weather,” the trend forecast from the company’s insight department [PDF] notes. “In the winter when the storms rage and the waves crash against the rocks, there is nothing more satisfying than being curled up in front of the fire, book and hot toddy in hand, listening to the weather outside.”

However, you don’t need to be under a blanket at home to properly experience Còsagach. The comforting feeling can be found almost anywhere—at a restaurant, ski resort, or, in true Scottish tradition, a pub. And though it is a great antidote to winter blues, VisitScotland emphasizes that it’s not exclusive to any one season.

Even if you aren’t planning a trip to Scotland in the near future, there are ways to incorporate Còsagach into your routine. Try repurposing some of the activities associated with hygge—just don’t tell your Scottish friends where you got your inspiration.

[h/t The Scotsman]

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Want Priority Boarding On Your Alaska Airlines Flight This Holiday Season? Wear an Ugly Christmas Sweater
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Between steep fares and crowded terminals, flying during the holidays isn’t fun. But on Friday, December 15, a special Alaska Airlines promotion will ease boarding stress and transform packed planes into mile-high ugly sweater parties, in honor of National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. As the Los Angeles Times reports, the airline will offer free early boarding to travelers willing to don their holiday worst at the airport.

The promotion is good for all Alaska Airlines flights in the airline’s 115-city network, and for flights offered by Virgin America and Horizon Air (both of which are operated by Alaska Airlines). In addition to escaping the waiting crowds, passengers who share the most festive knitted looks will be featured on Alaska Air's social media pages if they tag their photos and videos using the hashtags #UglySweaterDay and #MostWestCoast. And since no plane aisle-turned-catwalk is complete without a soundtrack, “festive holiday-themed boarding music will play all month long to help get guests into the holiday spirit,” according to a press release.

Worried you’ll be the only person on the plane wearing a sequined Rudolph cardigan? Even if other passengers don’t get the memo, airline crew will also be wearing ugly sweaters—so feel free to unleash your inner Chevy Chase from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

[h/t Los Angeles Times]

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