This picture is currently being spread virally:

Two bodies of water joining

Some Muslims were saying that this is mentioned in the Quran where it is said:

He has set free the two seas meeting together. There is a barrier between them. They do not transgress. (Quran, 55:19-20)


He is the one who has set free the two kinds of water, one sweet and palatable, and the other salty and bitter. And He has made between them a barrier and a forbidding partition. (Quran, 25:53)

My question is, is this claim true? Is the phenomena real? If so, is it common?

  • 16
    I don't think I can make this an answer without finding the image source, but this looks an awful lot like an unremarkable reef fringe: I can see sub-surface features in the lighter water and the white water is consistent with deep water hitting a suddenly shallower reef. IOW, there're lots of places that look like this and they have nothing to do with the water content. Jan 31, 2012 at 1:15
  • Please have a look at Cape point, South Africa.
    – user5945
    Feb 1, 2012 at 6:42
  • 2
    Reminds me of thermocline. Feb 1, 2012 at 18:55
  • 1
    Looks like a simple drop off to me.
    – Kevin
    Sep 5, 2017 at 16:31

2 Answers 2


Kent Smith, a.k.a Flickr user kentsmith9 claims to be the original photographer of this image.

He writes:

I thought this was the most unusual thing I saw on the Alaskan cruise in the water. These two bodies of water were merging in the middle of the Alaskan gulf and there was a foam developing only at their junction.

I thought this was an example of a Halocline described on Wikipedia. A few people have commented that a Halocline is more of a horizontal phenomenon and this is more vertically oriented.

I am pretty confident that what you are seeing is a result of the melting glaciers being composed of fresh water and the ocean has a higher percentage of salt causing the two bodies of water to have different densities and therefore makes it more difficult to mix. I'm told they will eventually mix given enough time.

People have asked me if I just happened to look out over the edge of the ship deck and see this. Actually I had been on the deck for quite some time when I noticed what appeared to be a shadow cast by clouds over the ocean about 5 miles in front of the ship. As we approached the shadow I realized it was something different. I took many shots up to the point I shot this one, but never posted them until a year after this image went viral. I really posted them to convince people I did not Photoshop this image. See the other shots here.

He goes on to describe the recent viral spread of this image.

While Kent Smith is apparently not an expert in oceanography, he proffers a plausible explanation, and doesn't claim that the two kinds of sea-water will never mix.

The question asks "is it common or can it be counted a miracle?"

This is a false dilemma. Phenomena can be both uncommon and have natural, rather than supernatural, explanations.

  • 34
    and of course common things can still be miraculous to those who don't understand what causes them. Like primitive people marvel at the sun coming up every day, crops sprouting from the ground a few weeks after seeding, fresh and salt water seeming to exist next to each other without mixing, and proclaiming that only God can make such things happen.
    – jwenting
    Jan 31, 2012 at 6:43
  • @jwenting Your comment seems to misunderstand the claim regarding miracle. What is claimed miraculous here is not that water cannot mix like such and is a very supernatural phenomenon , but that this natural phenomenon is mentioned in the book before it was discovered. Apr 19, 2023 at 12:24
  • 1
    @An_Elephant: Sea-faring began tens of thousands of years before the Quran was written. This phenomena may well have been/was likely to be discovered well before it was mentioned in the book.
    – Oddthinking
    Apr 19, 2023 at 23:45
  • @Oddthinking Yes it maybe(but not equally likely) . Under the consideration of evidences, the conclusion is otherwise. Apr 20, 2023 at 1:51
  • 1
    @An_Elephant: After approximately 40,000 years of sea-faring, the first time this phenomenon was seen was in 2010? That's a bold, unreferenced claim, so forgive me for not accepting it:
    – Oddthinking
    Apr 20, 2023 at 2:09

To answer your question, "Is there a place in the world where two oceans meet and they don't mix?" No, the water mixes it just isn't instantaneous. Saline, temperature differences, and pollutants can cause them to appear as if they don't mix for a period of time, especially if there aren't strong currents.

According to Ken Bruland, a professor of ocean sciences at the University of California-Santa Cruz:

"They [two waters separated by a 'border'] do eventually mix, but you do come across these really strong gradients at these specific moments in time. Such borders are never static... as they move around and disappear altogether, depending on the level of sediment and the whims of the water."

Source: http://www.adn.com/science/article/mythbusting-place-where-two-oceans-meet-gulf-alaska/2013/02/05/

Snopes: http://www.snopes.com/photos/natural/mergingoceans.asp

You sometimes see these remarkable differences in the water because of different saline concentrations or other pollutants. They will mix given time as long as there are currents. In underwater caves, and other places where the water isn't disturbed the water will separate based on its densities - this is called a Halocline.

You can see this here:

enter image description here

The separation shown in your picture was most likely due to saltwater and freshwater - however you can have a similar effect with pollutants like the picture below. This is due to high concentration of organic constituents of soil, minerals and vegetation.

enter image description here

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