10 Historical Videos Show How Aral Sea, Once The 4th Biggest Lake In The World Turned Into A Ship Cemetery

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The basin of Kazakhstan’s Aral Sea, once the world's fourth largest lake, is now completely dry.

10 Historical Videos Show How Aral Sea, Once The 4th Biggest Lake In The World Turned Into A Ship Cemetery

Children run past ruined ships abandoned in sand that once formed the bed of the Aral Sea near the village of Zhalanash, in southwestern Kazakhstan (Reuters / Shamil Zhumatov) / Reuters


The basin of Kazakhstan’s Aral Sea, once the world's fourth largest lake, is now completely dry. The sea's history, which derived this name from a Kyrgyz word which means “Sea of Islands,” is revealed below in a series of nine videos.


The journey starts back in 1972 when the first pictures of the shrinking Aral Sea were taken by a Landsat satellite. A time-lapse of Asia reveals that several of the areas of the lake were completely dry by 2009.



The ambitious Soviet project – a diversion of the two rivers that fed into the Aral Sea – was only short-term success. The engineers decided the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya rivers would irrigate the desert, where cotton might be grown for future exports. However, the idea's implementation led to an ecological catastrophe.


Imagine yourself traveling from the tiny Kazakh city of Aralsk to the Aral Sea, which is gradually and steadily dying. Having turned into desert, it's now home to camels and abandoned ships decorated with graffiti depicting the ghosts of sailors.



One of the worst human-made environmental disasters in the world, the Aral Sea was once the size of Ireland. RT’s Lindsay France went to Kazakhstan to report on the ambitious attempts to rejuvenate the sea with the help of dams.



The Aral Sea's demise also puts the health of people who live on its shores at risk. “You can’t see salt in the air, but you feel it on the skin, and you can feel it on a tongue,” reported a local woman, whose husband suffers from chronic bronchitis. However, the salt is not the only threat; the wind also spreads dangerous pesticides.



Scientific forecasts have long been stating that the Aral Sea is beyond salvation and will die within a decade. Nevertheless, with the water flowing back, there are hopes for Aralsk – which was once a port city – and its economy.



The water level is growing, and fish are returning to the Aral Sea – which was once home to the region's prosperous fishing industry. “They brought the sea back to us,” a local fisherman told RT's Lindsay France.



According to explorer and adventurer George Kourounis, who visited parts of the ‘ghost’ Aral Sea, “the brisk trade and friendly used bucks belie the intense hardship that comes when your livelihood literally evaporates.”



Recent photographs taken by NASA’s Terra satellite reveal the scale of the Aral Sea's drought over the past fourteen years, beginning in 2000. Southern Sea's eastern basin, one of Aral's two parts, has dried up for the first time in approximately 600 years.



Rescue efforts include more than mere discussion, as vegetation has been planted in the exposed seabed. Nevertheless, many projects are at stake because of a lack of funds or political will.




Reference: RT

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Thinking Humanity: 10 Historical Videos Show How Aral Sea, Once The 4th Biggest Lake In The World Turned Into A Ship Cemetery
10 Historical Videos Show How Aral Sea, Once The 4th Biggest Lake In The World Turned Into A Ship Cemetery
The basin of Kazakhstan’s Aral Sea, once the world's fourth largest lake, is now completely dry.
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Thinking Humanity
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