The Wider Image: Aral Sea: big fish is back in small pond
An abandoned ship lies next to a salinated part of the Aral Sea coastline near the village of Akespe. Akespe, home to some 250 people, and Karateren, inhabited by about 150, used to be dominated by fishermen until the water receded too far away - but it is now back in Karateren. The Aral was nearly destroyed as a result of the Soviet Union's plan to boost cotton production by diverting Syr Darya and Amu Darya, the two rivers feeding it, to irrigate the desert. Construction of irrigation facilities on the rivers began in the 1940s and by the 1960s the coast line was receding by about three metres a year, said 84-year-old Sagnai Zhurimbetov, who had worked as a fisherman on the Aral for 56 years and now lives in the former port town.