Aral Tengizi - Story of a dying sea

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.

— Radek Skrivanek