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World’s Largest Beach Cleanup Brings Back Turtles For The First Time In Decades

Sea turtles return to the beach following the greatest beach cleaning in history.

Versova Beach in Mumbai, India, is a touching tale of hope for both people and sea turtles. Here, one guy on a mission has turned what was once a waste, piled high with trash, back into a beautiful beach, leading by example.

Through his years of work and the assistance of others, the restoration of this habitat paved the opportunity for Olive Ridley turtles to once again lay their eggs on the beach.

This continuous cleanup effort, which the UN has even dubbed "the largest beach cleanup initiative in the world," was started by attorney Afroz Shah. It all started three years ago. Shah went to the beach and began offering to clean the public restrooms and collect trash by hand. He intended to demonstrate what needed to be done to the 55,000 residents who reside near the shore and rivers.

"Nobody joined for the first six to eight weeks. Then two men came up to me and said, "Please sir, may we wear your gloves?" in a very courteous manner. They both just arrived and joined me. At that point, I realised it would be a success. (Afroz Shah)

 He has since organized people to personally clean up trash from Versova beach. Additionally, he instills in the villagers and residents of the slums around the beach and the streams that feed it sustainable waste management methods so they realise the need of avoiding littering. Incredibly, he and the volunteers were able to eliminate 5 million kg of plastic in just 85 weeks.

The shoreline was once again ideal for nesting once the beaches were cleaned. Natural equilibrium is being restored by citizen initiatives like this one in Mumbai, India. Olive Ridley turtle expert Sumedha Korgaonkar, who is doing her doctoral work at the Wildlife Institute of India, said:

"There is no doubt that beach clean-ups benefit nesting turtles. The likelihood of finding nests improves because locals clean many beaches that are important nesting places before and throughout the nesting season.

"When I watched them heading towards the water, I felt tears in my eyes." (Afroz Shah)


Since farmers near the southern end of the two-mile (3-km) coastline reported spotting turtles in the sand, Shah had been anticipating this moment. He told The Guardian, "The instant we heard the news, I felt something significant was about to happen."

According to recent press reports, they now have roughly 500 volunteers consistently cleaning up on weekends and close to 30,000 school children on a roster system. People desire to help more and more. What has occurred here has inspired everyone. Many have joined in because they are inspired by the idea that even just one day of weekly volunteer work for a few hours may truly make a difference.

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