Uzbekistan’s city Moynaq has turned into a graveyard of ships and it is considered one of the creepiest places on Earth

Jack Beckett

Mo‘ynoq also spelled as Muynak and Moynaq, was once a thriving sea port city on the Aral Sea in western Uzbekistan, now home to only a few thousand residents at most.

Its population has been declining precipitously since the 1980s due to the recession of the Aral Sea and Mo’ynoq harbor has turned into a graveyard of ships.

Mo‘ynoq city entrance, Aral Sea, Uzbekistan. Source

Mo‘ynoq city entrance, Aral Sea, Uzbekistan

 

Mo'ynoq was once a thriving port city on the Aral Sea in western Uzbekistan, famed for its fishing and canning industries. Source

Mo’ynoq was once a thriving port city on the Aral Sea in western Uzbekistan, famed for its fishing and canning industries

Moynaq's population has been declining precipitously since the 1980s. Source

Moynaq’s population has been declining precipitously since the 1980s

 

Mo‘ynoq is now dozens of kilometers from the rapidly receding shoreline of the Aral Sea. Source

Mo‘ynoq is now dozens of kilometers from the rapidly receding shoreline of the Aral Sea

 

These eerie, rusting ships are the only reminder that this desert used to be a sea. Source

These eerie, rusting ships are the only reminder that this desert used to be a sea

Fishing had always been part of the economy of the region, and Mo‘ynoq became a center of industrial fishing and canning. In 1960, its fishing industry was bringing up to 60,000 tons of fish.

However, in the late 1960s, the volume of chemical fertilizers used in the fields of the Republic of Uzbekistan was 7 times larger than in the rest of the USSR.

Abandoned ships stranded in the desert. Source

Abandoned ships stranded in the desert

 

Rusting hulks of trawlers abandoned in Mo‘ynoq after the shrinking of the Aral Sea. Source

Rusting hulks of trawlers abandoned in Mo‘ynoq after the shrinking of the Aral Sea

 

Now locals call it Aral Kum – the desert of Aral. Source

Now locals call it Aral Kum – the desert of Aral

Uzbekistan was a major cotton producer for the Soviet Union, and it was decided to construct irrigation stations and reservoirs in Karakum and Big Fergana to increase the production of cotton. The rivers that fed the sea were diverted into irrigation, which caused the sea to slowly evaporate. Waterfront properties like Mo’ynoq turned to dry dust, and many boat owners failed to transport their boats before the waters receded, leaving behind these monuments to the city’s former glory.

In the Soviet days, the water turned salty and shrunk more than 50 percent. Source

In the Soviet days, the water turned salty and shrunk more than 50 percent

 

A rusting fishing boat lying on the aral seabed near Moynaq. Source

A rusting fishing boat

 

A graveyard of ships, lying in the sands where the waters once flowed. Source

A graveyard of ships, lying in the sands where the waters once flowed

 

The town is just a shadow of its former self. Source

The town is just a shadow of its former self

In just 34 years, from 1961 to 1995, the sea level dropped by 17 meters, and the shoreline receded by 100 – 150 km.

The ships that sailed the waters of Aral are now abandoned and buried in the sand, sinking into oblivion, creating a sight of a terrifying post-apocalyptic machinery graveyard. 33% of the seabed got exposed to the massive air stream in the area, which still continues spreading up to 100 million tons of dust and salt from the bottom of the long gone sea.