||Aral Tengizi —
Story of a dying sea
photos and text by
This documentary project explores the legacy of the former
Soviet regime and its destructive impact on the environment of Central
Asia, specifically, the Aral Sea.
Due to decades of aggressive irrigation for agriculture, the Aral Sea
(formerly the second largest lake in the world) is likely to disappear
from the map in the near future.
Former ports on the Aral sea are now landlocked and lay abandoned some
40-80 miles from the current water’s edge. Rusting cranes lay idle
on the docks with their arms stretched towards the sky, like the necks
of the birds that no longer come here during their migration. Due to the
high salinity, native fish cannot live in the remaining lake. With no
fish to catch and no port to go to, the fishing fleet was left deserted
in a harbor, where the ships slowly sank their keels into the mud. Children
pass by their rusting hulls everyday on their way to school, yet they
have never seen the sea itself.
The demise of the Aral Sea over the past four decades is more than another
ecological disaster. Its fate is a reflection of the negative consequences
of political and economic policies across Central Asia. Its shrinking
has severely impacted regional climates, agriculture and economies, as
well as populations. In many ways its fate is a metaphor for our attitudes
towards the environment, and the conflict between man and nature.