This 'Astonishing water' photos section offers some mystery and/or astonishing water photos that illustrate the diversity of innovative water uses and devices globally. Enjoy our astonishing water world!


Astonishing photo 1

Niagara Falls (USA/Canada)

"Until the development of the New York State Reservation Park in 1885, nearly all the shoreline property along the Niagara Gorge and every viewing area of the Falls was privately owned. Following the creation of the Reservation Park, the State of New York continued to entice industrialization with an offer of cheap water power"

See more details at


Photo credit:


Astonishing photo 2

Raised beds, Suphan Buri, Thailand

Raised beds are very popular in Southeast-Asia for vegetable and fruit tree crops in hydromorphic soils, most especially in deltas  (see a Mexicain equivalent: chinampas).

Irrigation of crops occurs directly through maintaining the water levels in the ditch but also through sprinklers : where can water be sourced from ? from the ditches of course, through a small floating pump that follows the farmer as he proceeds along the bed…

See the original photo at


Photo credit: François Molle/IRD


Astonishing photo 3

'Aerial well', Trans en Provence, France

An aerial well is a structure or device that collects the condensation of moisture from air. This idea is actually quite old, as can be seen from  This impressive mega-structure has been designed by Belgium engineer Achille Knapen in 1930. It never worked… but is still there to be seen.

See, in French, ‘Des fontaines sans source’ by A.Gioda


Photo Credit Wikipedia :


Astonishing photo 4

Lobuche, Kumbu Valley, Nepal (5000 m in altitude)

A washing machine on top of the world ! Water is sourced directly from the torrent and electricity is generated by a gas engine.

Original :


Photo credit : Patrice Garin


Astonishing photo 5

Damnoen Saduak area, west of Bangkok

Raised beds can be planted with coconut trees, especially in areas under tidal influence where the average salinity is higher. But harvested nuts have to be hauled out of the beds, which are often connected to the plot's surrounding dyke by a simple plank or bamboo.... Water provides a solution: nuts are cut, thrown into the ditch, assembled in garlands, and finally tugged to the exit of the plot with a minimal effort.

Original à


Credit photo: Surachit Chirawet


Astonishing photo 6

Free lunch

Les poissons qui passent par les dissipateurs d’énergie des déversoirs des barrages le font à leurs risques et périls…

American White Pelicans gather at the base of Pyramid Lake’s Marble Bluff Dam, USA


Credit: USBR (US Bureau of Reclamation)


Astonishing photo 7

Boat lift at Saint-Louis-Arzviller, northeastern France

Le plan incliné de Saint-Louis-Arzviller is a boat lift which is part of the canal linking the Marne and the Rhine rivers and allos the crossing of the Vosges Mountain range, in northeastern France.

The lift celebrated its 50th anniversary this year (2019)


Credit : Patrick Giraud 


Astonishing photo 8

Created wetlands, California

These are created wetlands, mostly from previously planted agricultural fields.  Most of these are created by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife in collaboration with the Audubon Society, CA Waterfowl Association and Ducks Unlimited to accommodate and encourage winter waterfowl migrants to stop and stay for the season.

Photo with full resolution :

See other incredible ‘constructed wetlands’ in California and other exceptional pics by Bruce Barnett


Credit : Bruce Barnett


Astonishing photo 9

Natural cooling ‘system’ near Tengchong, Volcanic park, in Yunnan, China

Keeping fruits and bottles cool thanks to the river

Full resolution version at

Credit : Karen Conniff



Astonishing photo 10

Tea pot at Hammam Meskoutine, Algeria

Last week's astonishing photo showed how to make use of the cooling power of rivers.

Why not do the opposite and prepare… tea, temperature allowing of course!

See full resolution pic at


Credit : Eliott MM


Astonishing photo 11

Ladybower reservoir plug hole (spillway), UK

Full resolution original:


Credit: Tim Hill


Astonishing photo 12

Mobypompe, Burkina Faso

This device allows a motorcycle engine to be used to pump water and, for example, irrigate small areas

Other photos :


Credit : Bruno Barbier/Cirad


Astonishing photo 13

‘Water saving winegrowing’

When saving water is becoming a commercial argument for winegrowers in Chile !

Full resolution original:


Credit : Sophie Bradford 


Astonishing photo 14

Temple pavillon (chozuya), Kyoto, Japon

Shinto water ablution pavilion for a ceremonial purification rite known as temizu, that can be found at the entrance of temples.

Other chozuya

Original :


Credit : François Molle


Astonishing photo 15

Dividing groundwater between users, Yemen

Each right holder has a distinct pipe.

Original photo at :


Credit : Frank van Steenbergen


Astonishing photo 16

Irrigated terraces along steep wadi, Yemen

Original at


Credit: Jochen Regner


Astonishing photo 17

Collecting lotus flowers in a flooded field, Central Thailand

Original at


Credit: François Molle


Astonishing photo 18

Makeshift swimming pool, Palestine

In the vicinity of BirZeit, a Palestinian father built a swimming pool with plastic sheets in his vegetable garden for the children of the village.

Original at


Credit: Heiner Schmitz

Astonishing photo 19

Sharing water equitably

Village Water Supply System - Kis - Near Sheki – Azerbaijan


Credit: Adam Jones @ Flickr/ see Adam's great albums at


Astonishing photo 20

Enjoying curative mineral waters, Madagascar


Credit: Rod Waddington; see Rod's amazing collection at


Astonishing photo 21

Terraced paddy-fields, Yunan, China

Whether from China, Vietnam or Philippines, terraced paddy-fields are inevitably irresistible

See our dazzling collection of terraced fields

See original HD at


Credit: Isabelle Chauvel


Astonishing photo 22

Moving wood on Lake Tana, Ethiopia

No boat needed here. The wood is clustered and floated across the lake.

See original resolution at


Credit: François Molle


Astonishing photo 23

Bride on boat, Vietnam

The bride is taken to the groom’s house for the wedding ceremony

Presumably he leaves on the other side of the lake

See original resolution at


Credit: Quang Nguyen Vinh (on pixabay)


Astonishing photo 24

Alluvial fan and spate irrigation in Iran

The art of diverting and sharing water


Source: NASA image created by Jesse Allen, using data from NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and the U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team. Caption by Rebecca Lindsey, based on interpretation provided on the ASTER Project Science Imagery Gallery Website.


Astonishing photo 25

Lovely oasis
Huacachina oasis, Ica, Peru

See original resolution at


Credit : Willian Justen de Vasconcellos; unsplash


Astonishing photo 26

Taum Sauk reservoir failure, USA

An elevated view of the path of the failure and the drained reservoir.
This conspicuous elevated reservoir has been constructed on top of Proffit Mountain to store water pumped out of peak time and to generate electricity during peak times.

See Hydropower Reform Coalition - see

And original resolution at


Credit: Missouri Attorney General's Office.


Astonishing photo 27

Waste from drip irrigation lines, Diama, Senegal

Drip irrigation generates considerable plastic waste, as drip lines have to be replaced between one and five years, according to their quality and local conditions.

Original resolution photo at


Credit: Jean-Yves Jamin, Cirad 


Astonishing photo 28

People releasing fish to acquire merit, Bangkok

Fish released in water by Buddhist people willing to acquire merit (tham bun), Wat Yaowarat, Bangkok, Thailand.

The slide is used to release fish without harming them.

See original resolution at


Credit: François Molle 


Astonishing photo 29

Energy dissipating structure after a weir, Japan

Katsu-uri weir on the Kinu River, north of Tokyo

See full resolution original photo at


Credit: François Molle, IRD (and thanks to Dr Satoh)

Astonishing photo 30

Nilometer, Cairo

Several nilometers allowed the measure of the flood intensity in the Nile valley. The river communicates with the shaft where the water level can be conveniently read.

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Credit: François Molle, IRD

Astonishing photo 31

Seat to cool-down along Karkorum Highway, Pakistan

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Credit: Karen Conniff


Astonishing photo 32

Collective water lifting, Chao Phraya Delta, Thailand

Axial pumps powered by 2-wheel tractors are ubiquitous in Thailand.

Here in Lop Buri province farmers congregate in the dry season to suck up water from a main drain.

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Credit: Credit: Khun Somboon, Ban Nong Mon


Astonishing photo 33

Water mirrors, Tannourine, northern Lebanon

No large-scale dams in northern Lebanon

Locals develop small-scale reservoirs to allow supllmentary irrigation

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Credit: Caroline Coulon


Astonishing photo 34

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, UK

The aqueduct carries the Llangollen Canal across the valley of the River Dee

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Credit: Martin Clark  

Astonishing photo 35


Playing in water

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Credit: Pxfuel, Public Domain Dedication


Astonishing photo 36

Single-leg-rower, Lake Inle, Myanmar

Lake Inle is famous for its fishermen and their unique boating/fishing techniques

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See also




Astonishing photo 37

Basin irrigation on steep slopes, Algeria

Basin irrigation of olive trees is common on the plains of Northern Africa. But how to water olive trees by gravity on steep slopes? Water is conducted through infiltration ponds constructed at the foot of each tree.

See the photo with original resolution and also  


Credit: Nabil Kherbache


Astonishing photo 38

Salt evaporation pans, Maras, Peru,_Peru

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and other photos of Maras


Credit: Credit:


Astonishing photo 39

‘Black hole’, Chao Phraya River bank, Bangkok

Flash floods are a big problem in Bangkok, which has 40% of its area under sea level. Natural drainage through canals, even equipped with pumps stations at their extremity, is insufficient. Tunnels are being built underneath the canals to help convey excess flows to an outlet where vertical pumps will extract the water flow into the Chao Phraya River. The black colour of the water indicates that drainage water is mixed with sewage water, both being conveyed by the same canals.

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Credit: François Molle


Astonishing photo 40

Indus - Zanskar river confluence, India

Clear waters encounter a silt-loaded river. There are several well known examples of such confluences, notably the Rio negro – Rio Amazonas confluence

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see also


Credit: Satish Krishnamurthy; Flickr


Astonishing photo 41

Watering onions downstream of Bagré reservoir, Burkina Faso

Large local calabashes (gourds) are used as watering cans

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Credit: Jacques Lemoalle/IRD


Astonishing photo 42


Man fishing with a spear on a makeshift raft.

Banani urban Lake, Dhaka, Bangladesh

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Credit: Benjamin Noury


Astonishing photo 43

Irrigated flower production in a flooded field, Sa Dec, Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Crop care is done on boats.

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Credit: Quang Nguyen Vinh at Pexel


Astonishing photo 44

Spectacular dam spillway New York State, USA

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Credit: //">>


Astonishing photo 45

Basket-boats are quite common on the channels of the Mekong Delta

With a not-so-easy-to-master rowing technique!

The basket is tar-coated to make it waterproof

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Credit: WorldFish/Jamie Oliver


Astonishing photo 46

‘Pirogues’ on the Mekong River, Laos

These boats were made out of kerosene tanks dropped by B52 air planes during the Vietnam War

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Credit: Credit: Guillaume Lacombe/Cirad


Astonishing photo 47

Urban pool in Dubai

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Credit: Pixabay/zauber2001;


Astonishing photo 48

Children playing in irrigation canals, Morocco

This ‘duck bill weir’ structure in the Haouz, Marrakech, is taken advantage of by children to play in water

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Credit: François Molle/IRD


Astonishing photo 49

Oval-shaped ‘duck bill weir’

Conspicuous weir on a canal in Morocco

Also see another instance of such a weir at

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Credit: Thierry Ruf/IRD


Astonishing photo 50

Magnificent ‘stepwell’, Rajasthan

Chand Baori at Abhaneri (Dausa, Rajasthan), India

Also see

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Credit: Chethan/Flickr


Astonishing photo 51

Loktak Lake, floating fisheries in Manipur, India

"Phumdis are a series of floating islands, exclusive to the Loktak Lake in Manipur state, in northeastern India. They cover a substantial part of the lake area and are heterogeneous masses of vegetation, soil and organic matter, in different stages of decay (...)  Phumdis are used by the local people for constructing their huts for fishing and other livelihood uses, and are inhabited by about 4000 people. Athapums are artificial circular phumdis, built by the villagers as enclosures for fish farming; aquaculture has caused proliferation of the phumdis in the lake". (Wikipedia) see

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Credit: Karen Conniff


Astonishing photo 52

Archimedean screws evacuating drainage water, Senegal River Delta, Senegal

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Credit: Credit: Jean-Yves Jamin/Cirad


Astonishing photo 53

Canal des Moines, Corrèze, France

Irrigation canal constructed by monks in the XIIth century and now renovated. The canal is either dug in or stuck to the cliff.

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Credit : François Molle


Astonishing photo 54

How to re-use dripper line waste, Algeria

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Credit: Nassim Ait Mouheb/INRAe


Astonishing photo 55

Diversion canal in Alagoas, Brazil

New diversion canal to transfer water from the Sao Francisco River

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Credit/CODEVASF/Divulgação ;

Matheus Sandes / Seinfra - AL; and Alzir Lima


Astonishing photo 56

The Ivanhoe Reservoir filled with shade balls, USA

Black balls covering LA reservoir:

"Yet despite their reputation for saving water, these balls were not put here just to reduce evaporation. The problem actually started with bromide, a natural substance found in salt water.

Bromide on its own is harmless to humans, but if some of this salty water creeps into the reservoir and undergoes ozone treatment with the rest of LA's drinking water, it can form the compound bromate. And bromate is a carcinogen".

"Originally called "bird balls", the solution was both odd and oddly perfect. Typically used around airports to stop birds from perching in nearby water, the black balls also turned out to be highly effective at keeping out sunlight"

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Credit: By Junkyardsparkle - Own work, CC0,


Astonishing photo 57

Wasabi fields, Japan

Wasabi is a rhizome that grows during 15 months in streambeds with the purest running water

It is very difficult to find appropriate sites and only two major ones can be found in Japan

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And other photos of wasabi


Credit: By lienyuan lee, CC BY 3.0,


Astonishing photo 58

Baobab cisterns

On the Mahafaly plateau, Madagascar, people carve baobabs to use them as cisterns to store excess water in the rainy season an use it in the dry season.

They can contain up to 9 m3 of water.

See documentary (in French)

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Credit: Pascal Danthu/Cirad 


Astonishing photo 59

Spillway of the Ataturk Dam, Turkey

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Credit: François Molle/IRD 


Astonishing photo 60

Pollution and foam in the Yamuna River, India

See more at




Astonishing photo 61

'Open bar' at fountain, Italy

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Credit: Pixabay

Astonishing photo 62

Jeans and water, London

Keep on consuming, at no cost to the earth

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Credit: Sophie Bradford

Astonishing photo 63

Small water-wheels on village canal, Kurama, North of Kyoto, Japan

These communal diversion weir and canal are made use of to generate electricity for domestic use.

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Credit: François Molle

Astonishing photo 64

Fire water, Namdapha Park Arunachal Praddesh, India

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Credit: Karen Conniff

With warm tribute to our friend David Molden who just retired after 10 years at ICIMOD

Astonishing photo 65

Dabab, Sinkhole, Oman

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Credit: Credit: Flickr/Hannah Jane

Astonishing photo 66

Falkirk Wheel, Scotland

A spectacular ‘boat-lift’ (See other photos On the web)

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Credit: Flickr/Matt Malone;


Astonishing photo 67

Morning glory pool, hot spring, Yellowstone, USA

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Credit: Tyler Bridges de Pixabay 
Astonishing photo 68

Monkeys enjoying hot water springs in winter, Japan

See more photos on the web

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Credit: Andrew Tan at

Astonishing photo 69

Houses on stilts, Xuan Thuy National Park, Vietnam

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Credit: Jean-Louis Janeau/IRD

Astonishing photo 70

Kerala (tourist) Boat house, Alleppey backwaters, India

See more Kerala boat houses on the web

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Astonishing photo 71

Draining water over  the highways, Chao Phraya Delta, Thailand

Main canals draining the Chao Phraya Delta towards the sea intersect roads.

In general bridges are built over (older) canals but in this case (a new canal over old roads) the opposite solution has been implemented.

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Credit: Thanawat Bremard


Astonishing photo 72

Lucky pond in Gingaku-ji (silver) temple, Kyoto, Japan

If you can throw a coin onto the flat stone in the middle, you'll have good luck!

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Credit: François Molle/IRD
Astonishing photo 73

Los Angeles aqueduct cascades, California, USA

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and more at


Credit: Chris 'Maven' Austin; see Mavens Notebook ( and

Astonishing photo 74

Duck rearing in Takeo Province, Cambodia

Pink ducks are coloured by their owners in order to recognize them.

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Credit: Jean-Philippe-Venot/IRD

Astonishing photo 75

Cluster of khettara (qanat) in Morocco

More photos of qanats on the web

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Credit: Thierry Ruf/IRD from

Astonishing photo 76

Water palace, Jaipur, India

The Jal Mahal is less well-known than the Taj Mahal but fascinating too

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Credit: Rod Waddington @Flickr

Astonishing photo 77

Stone beaver dam

Beavers use rocks for their dams when mud and branches are less available, as seen on Bear Creek, a tributary to the Truckee River, in Alpine Meadows, California.

But they of course also use trees:

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Credit: By Schmiebel - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Astonishing photo 78

Scooping water in the Red River Delta, near Hanoi

Various scooping devices are/were used in Asia to lift water over small heights.

This device requires the coordinated movements of two highly skilled persons

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Marc Bournof//IRD
Astonishing photo 79

Cooling system for hot groundwater in Saharan desert, Tunisia

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Credit: IRD@Indigo / Deschamps, Pierre
Astonishing photo 80

The magical flood, Niger

The annual flood of Komadougou Yobé near Diffa (in 1990). Children accompany it and run ahead of it.

An old woman collects the first foam and keeps it in a plastic bag (Leduc).

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Credit : ©IRD – Christian Leduc.
Astonishing photo 81

Kurumada circular rice field, Japan

Kurumada is the word meaning round rice field. This style of farming is now almost gone but used to be considered a way of planting a field to the gods. No manure or dirty water was permitted to be used on one of these fields.

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Astonishing photo 82

Traditional great fishing party, North Cameroon

A barrier of fish traps across the river; this photo has been taken in 1969

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And other photos of this event
Credit: Christian Leveque/IRD
Astonishing photo 83

Water and well being: elephant massage session in water in Pinnawala, Sri Lanka

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And our other photos of elephant blissfulness


Credit: Credit: Flickr/Dhammika Heenpella;

Astonishing photo 84

Thames barrier, panorama, UK

The Thames Barrier is a retractable barrier system that is designed to prevent the floodplain of most of Greater London from being flooded by exceptionally high tides and storm surges moving up from the North Sea. It has been operational since 1982.

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And other photos of the barrier


Credit: //">>

Astonishing photo 85

Loy Krathong festival, Lumphini Park, Bangkok, Thailand

Loi Krathong is a Siamese festival celebrated annually throughout the Kingdom of Thailand and in nearby countries with significant southwestern Tai cultures (Laos, Shan, Mon, Tanintharyi, Kelantan, Kedah and Xishuangbanna). The name could be translated as "to float ritual vessel or lamp," and comes from the tradition of making krathong or buoyant, decorated baskets, which are then floated on a river. Many Thais use the krathong to thank the Goddess of Water, the Hindu Goddess Ganga (river in Northern India), Phra Mae Khongkha. This festival can see the traces of its origin back to India.

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And other Loy Krathong photos


Credit: Fickr / Philip Hayward;

Astonishing photo 86

Astonishing photo 87

Tuhala whitch's well, Estonia

Tuhala Witch's Well (Estonian: Tuhala nõiakaev) is a karst spring in Kose Parish, Harju County, Estonia that overflows after heavy rains.

In Estonian folklore, it is said to be caused by witches lashing each other underground. In 2012 the Tuhala Witch's Well was voted as a "Wonder of Estonia"

Johan Sveningsson; Save the Tuhala karst area!

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Astonishing photo 88

Floating in the Dead Sea, Israel

With a salinity of 342 g/kg, or 34.2% (in 2011), it is one of the world's saltiest bodies of water – 9.6 times as salty as the ocean –

and has a density of 1.24 kg/litre, which makes swimming similar to floating

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Credit: Itamar Grinberg/Flickr

Astonishing photo 89

Fortified well, Motilla del Azuer, Spain

The "motillas" are fortified sites from the Bronze Age dating from the period between 2200 and 1500 B.C. They are specific to the area of La Mancha, where about twenty have been located. The Motilla del Azuer is the only one that can be visited. It is in Daimiel and is a complex construction with several walls, tortuous corridors and a large courtyard where a recently discovered and excavated well is located. Possibly it was a structure of refuge and defense, not prepared to be used as housing for long periods. The photo shows the well from the central tower.

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Astonishing photo 90

Hydraulic structure, near Takashima, Japan

The terminal reach of an irrigation canal (to the right) is connected through a pipe with the center of the pool.

The round shape of the pool maximizes the length of the spillway and therefore stabilizes the downstream water level in the canal.

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Credit: François Molle/IRD

Astonishing photo 91

Land subsidence and sinkholes around the Dead Sea, Israel

The drop in the Sea water level dewaters underground salt layers that dissolve and create land subsidence.

More than 4,000 sinkholes have formed since the 1980s within a 60-km-long and 1-km-wide strip along the western coast of the Dead Sea (DS) in Israel. (source)

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Credit: Wikimedia/By Mark Neyman / Government Press Office (Israel), CC BY-SA 3.0,;
Astonishing photo 92

Fisheries at Lake Awassa, Ethiopia

Pelicans, marabous and other birds wait for their share of fish...

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And other photos of fisheries in Lake Awassa


Credit: Christian Lévêque/IRD

Astonishing photo 93

Coracle made out of Yack skin, Tibet

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Astonishing photo 94

Conservation agriculture of vineyards, Lanzarote, Canary Islands

Water is harvested in funnels that direct water to the plant.

Stones protect the vine from the hot wind and also prevent erosion.

See other photos of vineyards in Lanzarote

Astonishing photo 95

Field of 'Ghosts' South San Joaquin Valley, California, USA

These pistachio or almonds young trees irrigated by drip lines have been protected from (presumably) the wind

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Credit: Chris 'Maven' Austin; see Mavens Notebook ( and

Astonishing photo 96

Crews corral debris for removal from behind the Lake Oroville flood control spillway gates, California

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Credit: DWR (Department of Water Resources), California;

Astonishing photo 97

Buffaloes’ Spa

Water buffaloes keeping cool in the river, Sri lanka

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Credit: François Molle/IRD

Astonishing photo 98

Chrisman Wind Gap & Grapevines, California, USA

The pumps in the distance are the Chrisman Wind Gap Pumps, which is the first major lift to get Central Valley’s water over the Tehachapis to Southern California (Los Angeles).

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Credit: Chris 'Maven' Austin; see Mavens Notebook ( and

Astonishing photo 99

Greenpeace Mexico campaign against water pollution, Jalisco, Mexico

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Greenpeace Mexico campaign against water pollution, World Water Day March 2012, El Salto, Juanacatlán, Jalisco

Astonishing photo 100

Stepwell, Prakasam, Andhra Pradesh, India

To celebrate the 100th photo of our ‘Astonishing waters’, here is one of the most outstanding baoli (stepwells) of India

Also see “Victoria Lautman Explores India’s Vanishing Stepwells”: