The name Aral means Island. The sea did once have many islands. However, many of them stopped beings islands as the sea dried up. Two of the prominent islands were Vozrozhdeniya and Barsa-Kelmes. Throughout the series of images, they first become larger, then they become peninsulas. They are now fully connected with the mainland.
Vozrozhdeniya Island became infamous as the location of the Soviet Union’s secret biological weapons program. In the 1950s, Vozrozhdeniya was a small, isolated island in the middle of the sea. Until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, various pathogens were tested, modified, and possibly weaponized on this island.
Vozrozhdeniya Island grew in size and joined the mainland around 2001. As the remote site became accessible, there was concern that the pathogens might have survived and spread to the mainland. In the early 2000s, experts from the United States helped Uzbekistan decontaminate the former island.
The former island Barsa-Kelmes is a nature reserve, established in 1939. Its natural isolation gave it great protection. But in 1999, the island became accessible, possibly threatening its pristine nature. It is now a desolate plateau, more vegetated than the surrounding dried sea bottom. However, this vegetation degraded as the sea disappeared.
For more information, see the book by Micklin and others, listed in the References section, pages 4 and 22.