News Article

News Article

Do You Dare Visit the Ghost Ships of Mo‘ynoq?

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Not too long ago, the city of Mo‘ynoq in Uzbekistan was a busy, thriving port on the Aral Sea, and home to a massive fishing industry. Over the years, the waters were heavily diverted to irrigate crops, causing them to recede rapidly, and the Aral, which had already suffered from overfishing, became polluted with waste runoff. By the 1980s, Mo‘ynoq was virtually abandoned, and today the environment is plagued with dust storms so toxic they're endangering the lives of Uzbeks still living in the region.
 
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Amazingly, that hasn't stopped the Mo‘ynoq tourist industry, which prevails thanks to many curious visitors to the city's massive fleet of eerie abandoned fishing boats.
 
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Image: Neil Banas
 
Dating back to the country's Soviet occupation, these rusting, sand-blasted hulks are scattered across the Aral's dry seabed, grounded forever as the waters pull further and further back – which makes it appear they've been dropped from the sky by unseen visitors or blasted out of the water by an apocalyptic catastrophe.
 
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Image: Neil Banas
 
You can still visit the ghost ships today, but don't stay too long – the winds that blast through the area contain toxic chemicals, believed to be causing chronic illness among the town's few remaining residents.
 
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