Removing our garbage allows nature to thrive

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Mumbai beach recovery
By Michelle Robertson
Hailed as one of the world’s largest clean-ups, a heavily polluted beach has been transformed from a “shin-deep dump for plastics and rubbish” into the site of a massive turtle nesting. Thanks to hundreds of volunteers who worked tirelessly to rid the beach of 13 million kg of rubbish over a two year period, a host of Olive Ridley turtles have made their way onto Versova beach in Mumbai, India for the first time in decades. To ensure that the turtles were not harmed at the hands of wild dogs or birds of prey, volunteers slept in the sand to watch over them, resulting in at least 80 hatchlings making their way back into the Arabian Sea.

The man who leads the ongoing cleanup operation, lawyer Afroz Shah, said he started anticipating the turtle hatchings when farmers on the southern end of the beach reported seeing turtles in the sand. “I had tears in my eyes when I saw them walking towards the ocean.” Talking about the start of the clean-up operation, Afroz said he began by picking up rubbish himself - leading by example. “For the first six to eight weeks nobody joined. Then two men approached me and said, very politely, ‘Please sir, can we wear your gloves?’ Both of them joined me, and that’s when I knew it was going to be a success.”


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