Once Muynak used to be the biggest harbor on the Aral sea shore - a big and developed city on a peninsula. Its fishing industry supplied over 60 thousand tons of a fish from the Aral sea every year and the canning factory produced at least 5% of the whole consumption of fish in the boderless USSR.

Then in mid 1960‘s Soviets decided to turn Uzbekistan into their largest cotton producer and started to use the two main water sources (rivers Amudarya and Syrdarya) for an irrigation. The sea slowly began to disappear.

In 1984 fishing in the Sea was stopped completely. Nowadays Muynak lies in the middle of a desert. 150 km from closest point of the Aral sea shore. Most of the people lost their jobs and only a shipwrecks and the fish factory ruins are reminding the sad history and its former glory. Aral sea was one of the worlds biggest lakes with its circa 66 thousand square kilometers, while today the area is less than 12 tousand square kilometers. As a result of the huge water volume reduction, lake became strongly contaminated by fertilazers used for the cotton growing, salinity increased to more than 10% and therefore is no longer inhabitable for almost any aquatic animal. Instead of the former deep sea full of life, there is a new dry sand and saline Aralkum desert of the total area of 38 000 km² covered just with small bushes and inhabited only by wild horses. Sand storms throws-out to the atmosphere over one hundred million tons of sand and salt every year, which causes a big healthy issues to a locals. It's been one of the worst ecological disasters ever.

Even though everyone lost their job and nowadays they live in a very poor conditions, you can only see smile on their faces. They earn the living by cattle breeding, crop raising, hunting, fishing in a small wetland lakes and as in many other post-Soviet countries every second person with a driving licence here is a taxi driver.

As they use to say:“Fish was, fish is gone.“ Without any worries. The less you have, the less you can loose and the happier you are.

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