June 18, 2024


TURKMENBASHI: On the Caspian Beach in Turkmenistan, Batyr Yusupov can now not ferry his passengers between two ports. There may be not sufficient water.


“I used to go between Turkmenbashi and Hazar,” the 36-year-old ferry employee mentioned of the ports separated by a small gulf on Turkmenistan’s coast.

“However we haven’t been capable of go there for a yr because of the critical shrinking of the Caspian,” he mentioned.

In at the very least one seaside metropolis, native bathers have famous the waters receding by a whole bunch of meters.

However it’s not nearly ferry routes or having to stroll additional for a correct swim: the adjustments hit the guts of Turkmenistan’s struggling financial system.

And yr after yr, the water ranges are falling.

It’s nonetheless not totally clear why that’s occurring, however scientists say it’s all the way down to naturally occurring processes exacerbated by local weather change.

One 2021 research projected that by 2100, water ranges within the Caspian Sea may drop by one other 8 to 30 meters (26 to 98 toes).

The Caspian Sea, an inland physique of water, is flanked by the Caucasus area to the west and Central Asia to the east.

Turkmenistan, a former Soviet republic, is certainly one of 5 international locations on the Caspian Sea along with Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Iran and Russia.

And they’re all, to some extent or one other, affected by the adjustments.



South of Turkmenbashi, within the seaside city of Hazar, satellite tv for pc photos present the shore has receded round 800 meters (half a mile) on each side.

That has turned the city, which sits on the finish of a peninsula, into an island.

As a substitute of crusing between Hazar and the principle port of Turkmenbashi, Yusupov now takes passengers to Gyzylsuw — between the 2 — which is extra accessible by boat.

However even there, the state of affairs just isn’t significantly better.

“A brand new pier is being constructed as a result of the outdated one is now not deep sufficient,” mentioned one native resident, 40-year-old Aisha.

Dozens of rusty boats line the shore in Gyzylsuw.

Aisha’s home has stilts defending it from the ocean, which now appear superfluous.

“Even throughout storms, the water doesn’t attain the home,” she mentioned.

In Turkmenbashi itself, Turkmenistan’s largest coastal metropolis, the altering shoreline is clear to swimmers.

“Final summer time, the water was as much as my shoulders, then round my waist,” mentioned one common, 35-year-old Lyudmila Yesenova.

“This yr, it’s under my knees.”



The receding waters threaten the maritime infrastructure of Turkmenbashi, a serious Central Asia port essential for commerce between Europe and Asia.

And on the alternative coast of the Caspian lies Baku, the capital of oil-rich Azerbaijan.

Turkmen International Minister Rashid Meredov sounded the alarm in a current speech.

“At current, the ocean degree is near the minimal values for the whole time of instrumental observations,” he mentioned in August.

“Within the final 25 years, it has decreased by nearly two meters,” which meant that the retreat of the ocean had grow to be significantly noticeable lately, he added.

“The ocean has moved a whole bunch of meters away from its former shores,” he mentioned. “Within the north of the Caspian these figures are even larger.”

Neighbouring Kazakhstan, Central Asia’s largest nation, has echoed a few of Turkmenistan’s issues.

However after years of disputes over the management of giant hydrocarbon reserves within the area, the collaboration Meredov has known as for is barely in its earliest levels.


Turkmen scientist Nazar Muradov attributes the altering sea ranges to “tectonic actions and seismic phenomena, which change the seabed.”

He mentioned the ocean degree had beforehand fallen within the Nineteen Thirties and the Eighties earlier than rising once more. However the altering local weather additionally needed to be factored into this newest phenomenon, he added.

“The ocean degree additionally will depend on the circulation of rivers — whose ranges are diminishing — in addition to low ranges of precipitation and intense evaporation.”

Kazakhstan additionally will depend on the ocean for its oil and fuel business.

The drop in water ranges, coupled with an increase in temperatures, has additionally hit marine life within the Caspian, together with seals.

In an indication he takes the state of affairs severely, Kazakh chief Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has introduced he had taken the decline within the seal inhabitants beneath his “private management.”

He additionally mentioned Kazakhstan would create a analysis institute for the research of the Caspian.