12 of the World’s Strangest & Most Unusual Bodies of Water

Beppu Hells, Japan

(images via: melanie_ko)

With their blood-red waters, billowing steam and overwhelming smell of sulphur, it’s easy to see why the nine geothermal hot spots of Beppu, Japan are known as the ‘Beppu Hells’. Geysers in the hot spot erupt throughout the day. Their individual names include Shaven Monk’s Head Hell, Boiling Hell, Demon Mountain Hell and Blood Pond Hell.

Lake Nyos, Cameroon

(images via: wikimedia commons)

A crater lake in the Northwest Region of Cameroon in Africa is extremely deep and quite dangerous. It flanks an inactive volcano and sits atop a pocket of magma that leaks enough carbon dioxide to turn the water carbonic. In fact, there’s enough carbon dioxide in this lake to kill. In 1986, Lake Nyos emitted a large cloud of CO2 that suffocated 1,700 people and 3,500 livestock. A degassing tube now siphons water from the bottom of the lake to allow the CO2 to leak in safe quantities. But if an earthquake or other big natural disaster strikes, a weakening natural wall on the lake could result in a deluge of downstream villages all the way to Nigeria, allowing much more carbon dioxide to escape.

The Aral Sea, Kazakhstan

(images via: martjin.munneke, NASA)

Once among the four largest lakes in the world, with an area of over 26,000 square miles, the Aral Sea has been shrinking since the 1960s, ever since Soviet irrigation projects diverted the rivers that fed it. Today, it’s almost entirely a barren basin of sand and salt, less than 10% its original size. The shrinking of the lake has been a major environmental and economic disaster for a region that once relied upon it for fishing, and to help mediate the local climate.

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

(images via: wikimedia commons)

This is paradise like you’ve never seen – unless you’ve actually been there, of course. Looking like a landscape scene straight out of the movie Avatar, the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia are tiered and cascading, streaming with narrow waterfalls, one pouring into the next. 16 lakes can be seen on the surface, separated by natural dams made of travertine. The lakes vary in color from deep blue to pale green depending on depth, the angle of sunlight and the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water.