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Beach cleanup leads to turtle comeback

Date: 26-Apr-18
Author: Laura Chalk

Turtles are returning to Mumbai beaches after a massive litter pickup © Afroz Shah

Turtles are returning to Mumbai beaches after a massive litter pickup

Versova Beach in India has undergone the world’s largest beach cleanup. As a result, vulnerable turtle species not seen in decades return!

Lawyer Afroz Shah and his team of volunteers have been diligently cleaning up Versova beach in Mumbai for the past 2 years. The beach was so neglected that the litter across the 3km stretch of beach reached shin-deep. The United Nations noticed, naming the cleanup the world’s largest and awarded Shah with the Champions of the Earth Award, as reported by India Today.

Recently, Shah and the residents of Versova beach have been rewarded with another unexpected prize – the arrival, after decades of absence, of the vulnerable Olive Ridley Turtle.

Two months ago, locals reported sightings of the turtles in the sand. “The moment we got that news I knew something big was going to happen,” Shah told the Guardian. His anticipation was confirmed when some of his volunteers contacted him to say they had seen dozens of the baby turtles emerging from nests.

After calling the forest department, Shah went to the beach with 25 volunteers to guard the area while the tiny turtles made their journey across the sand and into the Arabian Sea. The volunteers spent the evening protecting the hatchlings from birds of prey and wild dogs “making sure not one hatchling suffered a death”, Shah said.

The Olive Ridley turtle species are classified as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. And, while the species have been sighted in other parts of India, they had not been seen on Versova beach in decades, due to acute pollution. “I had tears in my eyes when I saw them walking towards the ocean”, Shah told the Guardian.

Shah and his volunteers not only continue to maintain the now pristine beach, but also teach sustainable waste practices to the villagers and people living in slums nearby. He estimates he and his team have cleared 13 million kg of filth from the beach over the past two years.

Positive Actions

  • Start your own beach, park or community cleanup! Or, join one of the many groups of people or events throughout the year that focus on just that, for example Clean Up Australia Day or Take 3.
  • Ensure what you do pick up is disposed of responsibly. RecyclingNearYou.com.au is Australia’s biggest recycling database, and will help you know exactly how to cleanup correctly.


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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.

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Laura                                             Chalk
Author: Laura Chalk Laura joined Planet Ark in 2016. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience having travelled the world and a background in teaching English as a second language among other things.

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