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The Aral Sea was once one of the four largest lakes in the world, situated between Kazakhstan in the north and Uzbekistan in the south. In the 1960′s the Soviet Union redirected its tributary rivers into irrigation projects, and as a result by 2007 it had shrunk to 10% of its original size. Once prosperous fishing towns like Muynak were left stranded miles from the retreating waters, their boats high and dry on the salt-encrusted desert sand.
The middle of the desert is probably the last place on earth you'd expect to find a flotilla of abandoned ships stranded nearly 100 miles from the nearest shoreline. The story starts back in the 1980s, when Mo'ynaq was a thriving fishing village situated on an inland lake. Then the USSR diverted the water to irrigate massive cotton fields and the lake dried up-- leaving Mo'ynaq's boats high and dry (and the villagers with no way to make a living).
Desert Graveyard of Ships In the 1960’s, the Soviets diverted tributary rivers from the Aral Sea, causing it to recede by more than 50% and leaving Uzbekistan’s only port torn of Mo’ynoq a desert wasteland filled with boats not quick enough to escape the aftermath. But one’s man economic disaster is just another man’s photo op, as it were, as the area is now host to tourists who’ve come to see these lingering ghosts of commerce. (photos by Martijn Munneke via: kuriositas / io9)