50-year-old ghost ships in middle of the desert



These ships are a relic from a bygone age, when the Aral Sea in Uzbekistan was a rich area teeming with fish and providing a bustling trade for the surrounding communities.
Then, in the space of a few years, much of the sea dried up, the fish died, and nothing was left but the rusting hulls.

The Aral Sea used to one of the largest lakes in the world, covering 26,300 square miles. Now, it exists only as about 2,000 square miles of water, split into four smaller lakes.
The vanishing sea – actually a lake, but dubbed the ‘sea’ as it was one of the largest lakes in the world – was a planned act by the Soviet Government.


The government wanted to use the water to irrigate other parts of the desert for the production of cotton and other goods and was well aware this would destroy large swathes of the Aral Sea.
Irrigation began in the 1940s, with the Soviets building large – but poorly-waterproofed – canals to divert water from the rivers that filled the lakes.