Once the fourth largest lake in the world, the Aral Sea began to shrink in the 1960s. Russian engineers diverted the rivers feeding the sea to vast desert irrigation projects in areas north of what is now Kazakhstan.
Some consider the shrinking of the Aral Sea one of the planet's worst environmental disasters. The region's once-prosperous fishing industry has been destroyed.
Today, the Aral Sea consist of 4 separate, highly polluted lakes.