The INSIDER Summary:
• The Moynaq Ship Graveyard is literally a ghost town in the middle of the desert.
• It was once home to a busy fishing port as well as one the four largest lakes in the world. Today, nothing but desert remains.
• The lake began to shrink when Soviet irrigation projects diverted the rivers that fed it. While this could be reversed, Uzbekistan doesn’t have he funds to do so.
In Uzbekistan, an eerie ship graveyard filled with hauntingly beautiful shipwrecks beckons.
The Moynaq Ship Graveyard is literally a ghost town in the middle of the desert.
It was once a busy Soviet fishing port on the Aral Sea — one of the four largest lakes in the world back in the day — but today, nothing but desert remains.
Let’s take a closer look and see how these ships came to be stranded in the middle of the desert.
Once one of the four largest lakes in the world (it was 42,325 square kms), the Aral Sea dried up when the rivers feeding it were diverted for irrigation purposes.
Aral Sea translates to 'Sea of Islands,' named for the over 1,100 islands it was once home to. Today, dozens of ships are disintegrating in the scorching desert heat.
In the 1960s, the Aral Sea began to steadily shrink when Soviet irrigation projects diverted the rivers feeding it.
Moynaq's many fishermen followed the lake's shrinking shores, but as the lake disappeared its salinity levels rose, killing all the fish. The town, heavily reliant on the fishing industry, slowly died along with it.
The eastern basin of the Aral Sea is now known as the Aralkum desert. It is said that the Aral Sea disaster could be undone if the diverted rivers, which are irrigating cotton fields, were re-diverted. However, Uzbekistan doesn't have the money to do this, and relies on its cotton industry.
Today it's a ghost town. There are murals and signs depicting fish all over town, proving how it used to be a bustling fishing town. In fact, the Aral Sea fishing industry apparently employed around 40,000 at its peak.
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