Turtles Come Back To Indian Beach For The First Time In 20 Years After World’s Biggest Clean Up, Prove We Can Make A Difference

By: Anuradha

A single thought can create a turtle hatchings in the world. When the lawyer Afroz Shah, thought of cleaning up the Versova beach in India, he never thought that it would be a huge success. But it ended up being the World’s largest cleanup and the best thing is that hatchlings from a vulnerable turtle species have been spotted for the first time in Mumbai beach. 

At least 80 Olive Ridley turtles have made their way into the Arabian sea from nests on the southern end of Versova beach. These turtles were protected by some volunteers who slept overnight in the sand and speaking to the Guardian, Shah said he started anticipating the turtle hatchings two months ago when farmers on the southern end of the two-mile (3km) beach reported seeing turtles in the sand

“The moment we got that news I knew something big was going to happen. Last Thursday, some of my volunteers calledto say that they spotted dozens of baby Olive Ridley turtles emerging fromtheir nests.”

He called the forest department and then went down to the beach with about 25 others to guard the area and to “make sure that not one hatchling suffered a death”.

International Union for Conservation of nature  has named these Olive Ridley species as ‘vulnerable’ and last month onthe coat of the eastern Indian state of Odisha, a record 428,083 Olive Ridleyturtles nested simultaneously at the Rushikulya rookery.

For more than two years, Shah has beenleading volunteers in manually picking up rubbish from Versova beach andteaching sustainable waste practices to villagers and people who are living inslums. He says he taught them by example, offering to clean communal toiletsand pick up rubbish himself before he ever sought their help.

“for the first six to eight weeks nobody joined. Then two men approached me and said ‘Please sir, can we wear yourgloves? Both of them just came and joined me. That was when I knew it was goingto be a success.”

Sea turtles roamed the oceans for over 100million years, but they faced several issues when humans started encroaching on their habitats.

When not being caught and eaten in their millions by people looking for an ‘easy catch’.

They end up tangled in fishing nets.

While climate changes and beaches have destroyed, they give birth.

Just recently, 300 turtles were found dead off the coast of Mexico, likely to have drowned in stray fishing nets.

But things have started to change.

People have started to clean up beaches as the movement emerged in Mumbai.

The effort was led by the lawyer Afroz Shah.

The UN named it as the world’s largest beach clean up project.

It was a huge pit of trash earlier.

It has been transformed now.

Into a beautiful coastline where turtle scan safely nest.

Shash said “I had tears in my eyes when Isaw them walking towards the ocean”

Six of the seven species of sea turtles are still considered to be critically endangered.

This is how the beach currently looks.