Sunday, October 4, 2015


4 October 2015: OK friends - here's a strange one for you. And the title does not refer to the metaphoric "ships of the desert", camels. Nope, these are, as you will soon see, real ships left in the desert through what could be likely the worst ecological disaster in modern times.

In Uzbekistan, there used to be a body of water known as the Aral Sea, at one time, one of the four largest lakes in the world. Now, it's a desert. In a fit of misguided genius in the 1960's, the Russians diverted the rivers feeding the lake for irrigation purposes and, as the waters went down, the lake dried up and the fishing boats became stranded. Now, dozens of fishing vessels, some quite large, lay disintegrating in the middle of what has become a desert.

The nearest shore line is nearly 100 miles away! This would be a fine example of the "law of unintended consequences!" There remains less than 10% of the original body of water. And the town, supported by fishing, died along with the lake and its fishy inhabitants. Interestingly, the fishing industry supported about 40,000 people in its heyday!

Pretty amazing, the depredations inflicted by man, on nature, environment, and people.

As a PS to this story, the diverted waters irrigate cotton fields. And cotton is now the main product of Uzbekistan, and one on which the people are totally dependent for their livelihood.

Until next time, then, I wish you all

                                          Fair Winds,
                                                Old Salt (and still afloat!)

PS - We have now passed 8,000 readers! Thank you all!

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