The Aral Sea was the 4th biggest lake of the world and second biggest water resource of Eurasian continent after the Caspian. Now, the Aral Sea was lying in the autonomous republic of Karakalpakstan, between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.Biggest lake of Central Asia, rich area for fishing and for the development of new villages and cities, the Aral Sea started shrinking by the 1960s.
The Aral Sea has started gradually disappearing after the 60th of the 20th century. Today, nearly 90 percent of the sea has dried up and the uncountable number of projects can only help keeping the current level of water in the sea. The disaster of the Aral Sea can easily be called one of the major Human-made-disasters of the world. Today, we do not call it “Aral Sea” anymore, we call it “the Aral Desert”.
Why did the Aral Sea Dry up?
Why is the Aral Sea shrinking? The alteration of nature and environment by the human is considered as the reason for the disaster of the Aral Sea. Namely, early 1950s the Soviet government decided to turn most of Uzbekistan into cotton fields for producing as much “white gold” as possible. For realizing this project they have started making new "cotton fields" in the steppes of Uzbekistan and commenced using the water of 2 main rivers of the region for irrigating the new cotton fields. So, the rivers stopped flowing into the Aral Sea and it was the beginning of the end of the Sea. From year to year the Soviet government was producing more and more cotton for becoming the number 1 cotton exporter of the world (in1988) and simultaneously the Aral Sea was drying up.
How to travel to the Aral Sea?
Today it is almost impossible to reach to the waters of the Aral Sea though there are lots of various travel itineraries in Uzbekistan which offer intro-visits to the history of the Aral Sea. These visits include a day trip to the city of Muynaq – former port city on the shores of the Aral Sea and a trip to the Sudoche Lake. Sudoche was one of small lakes around the Aral Sea. A trip to Sudoche can be interesting for people who want to see the water of the Aral Sea.
Aral Sea Today
Following the statistics of the scientists within the last years the possibility of water inflow is decreasing and the level of salinity is increasing. As water continues evaporating the salt and dust of the Aral keeps traveling all around Central Asia with violent winds. 11 species of fish, 26 species of birds and 12 species of mammals have already disappeared. Until the middle of the 20th century people could easily travel by boats in most of Central Asia from the Aral Sea to the rivers Amu and Sir Darya.
Recovery of the Aral Sea
The crisis of the Aral Sea is one of the lots of examples of the humanity destroying the nature. Though some people say that the Aral Sea has already dried up for several times and recovered again, today, the situation is quite different. The natural change of the level of the Aral has happened a few times but it has never been as serious and as fast as now. Since 1960 the level of the water in the Aral Sea has dropped at least one meter per year. Due to the diminution of agricultural fields during the last years the Syr Darya restarted to flow into the smaller part of the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan. This fact has made the people in the world think that the Aral Sea can be restored. In fact, according to scientists the sea continues disappearing and even if the rivers continue flowing into the sea it requires over 200 years to truly restore the volume of water in the Aral Sea.
Facts about the Aral Sea
Surface – 68000 km2
Average depth – 9 meters (29ft)
Deepest point – 70 meter
Maximum death – 102m (335ft)
Species of fish – 34 species
Species of birds – 397 species
Used to be the 4th biggest lake of the planet;
Water of Aral Sea contained 10grams of salt per liter
Main sources of water – Sir Darya, previously Amu Darya also used to flow into the Aral Sea.