In 1980, the Aral Sea was one of the world’s largest lakes in the world – comprising a rough area of approximately 2,600 square miles on its surface. Used for transportation, fishing, and irrigation, many legends surrounded the landlocked sea, and an entire ecosystem depended on it for life. But when the Soviet Union attempted to make use of it to provide for the farms around it, something terrible began to happen. And the sea which once had such a rich history of legends and stories began to die – and new stories began to arise.
The Aral Sea is one of those ecological horror stories that tells us what happens when human hands intervene in an area too much, and how even a vast and apparently indomitable sea can be torn down given sufficient intervention by outside forces. It is both a story of brilliant ingenuity and tragic short-sightedness. No longer do vast swathes of water grace this barren plain. Now all that remains are the sound of the wind shrieking in your ears and the massive hollowed out corpses of ships long sunk only to rise again in the vast spaces of emptiness. But some say there is something else lurking in this massive unsettled desert – something that once was human.
The once port city of Muynak was a bustling port city filled with life and bustling with activity. Hundreds of thousands depended on the port city and others like it for their livelihood, clambering aboard vast fishing vessels that would explore the deep with nets and ropes and gather up the bounty it left behind. Only now Muynak is all but abandoned – and many of the ships have been left behind.
But there are some ships that remain behind lying in the sand where nothing will grow. The salt left behind from long ago has made it impossible for vegetation to grow here. Nothing springs up from the ground aside from massive ships waiting to be scavenged – and yet some will never be claimed, instead waiting through an eternity when none dare go near them.
Stories have sprung up about certain vessels, still towering in the barren wasteland. The rust covered hulls are a testament to a life that once was, much like the ghosts said to still inhabit them. Are these the souls of those who refused to leave as the water dried up and was carried by Soviet channels of progress? Or merely the wind howling through their broken hulls? Regardless of the cause, there are places where scavengers simply will not go for fear of the past and the things that go bump even in the brightness of the sun baking down on the Aral wasteland – the sea that died.
When it comes to remote places with rumors of haunting surrounding them, few are more mysterious or terrifying than the isolated ship graveyard of Aral.