Carolyn Drake won two First Prizes in POYi 2010 (Picture of the year international award) organized by the Reynolds journalism institute.

First Place – POYi category Science/Natural history: “untitled”.

First Place – POYi category Science/Natural history picture story: “Paradise Rivers”.

Carolyn has released an interview about her Paradise Rivers project to Orion Magazine.

First Place – “untitled”

This is one of several preserved species on display in the History Museum of Aralsk, a formerly bustling Soviet fishing port on the Aral Sea. The animals were placed in Kazakhstan’s “Red Book” of endangered species as water from the Syr and Amu Darya was diverted for cotton farming, causing the Aral Sea and the life it supported to deteriorate. The Aral Sea has been steadily shrinking since the 1960s. By 2007 it had declined to 10% of its original size, splitting into three lakes, one of which has since disappeared. Animal life around the dried South Aral Sea has vanished, and the Aralsk History Museum’s taxidermy evidence of the region’s once vibrant animal life are also slowly distintegrating.

visible on POYi web site:

photo gallery

First Place – “Paradise Rivers”

After incorporating the five Central Asian republics into its empire in 1917, the Soviet government began transforming the Amu and Syr Darya rivers, which run across the entire region, into a web of irrigation canals that brought cotton production to the area on a massive scale. Such large quantities of water were diverted that the Aral Sea, once the world’s fourth largest inland sea, began to disappear. When Moscow’s rule ended in 1991, five new Central Asian nations appeared, burdened with plunging economies, artificial borders, and a growing environmental crisis.

The water that nourishes the whole region comes from melting glaciers and snow in the mountains of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. During Soviet times, decisions about sharing of resources were made by the central government in Moscow. Now, the countries are constantly disputing how the region’s dams should be used – the downstream countries want the water to be stored in reservoirs in winter and released for irrigation in summer, but the upstream countries want to release it in winter to create electricity. This is a reservoir above nurek dam in Tajikistan. The line along the shore indicates a low water level. Theoverall water supply will continue to diminish in the future.

visible on POYi web site:

photo gallery

Carolyn Drake