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7 lakes and rivers that are drying up

By: Shea Gunther on July 27, 2011, 11:45 a.m.
aerial images of aral sea in 1989 and 2008

Photo: pesbo/Flickr

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Aral Sea

The Aral Sea is the poster child for large, dried-up bodies of water. If you travel to the Aral Sea, which sits on the border between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, you'll find a disconnected collection of small ponds of sea water sitting in a dusty bowl that held what used to be one large body of water. The Aral Sea, which is technically a lake, has been steadily shrinking since the 1960s when the Soviet Union began to divert rivers that feed the Aral Sea for agricultural irrigation. With the receding waters went a large fishing industry, leaving high rates of unemployment and fishing boats left to dry on the former shoreline.

In recent years, there have been efforts to divert more water back into the sea, but it's unlikely that it will ever regain its former size and glory. The Aral Sea is easily one of the biggest human-caused environmental bungles in history.