FACT CHECK: Did ‘Hundreds Of Thousands’ Of Turtles Hatch On Versova Beach After It Was Cleaned Of Trash?
A post shared on Facebook claims that “hundreds of thousands” of sea turtles hatched on Versova Beach in Mumbai, India after a 96-week cleanup operation there.
While the cleanup did occur, it led to the appearance of only about 80 sea turtles, not hundreds of thousands. One of the photos included in the post was not taken at Versova Beach.
The Facebook post shows a screenshot of a tweet that includes two alleged images of Versova Beach in Mumbai. The first shows what appears to be a mountain of trash while the second shows dozens of turtles on a sandy beach.
“It took 96 weeks and thousands of volunteers to clean up Versova Beach in Mumbai, India,” reads the text of the tweet. “The payoff? Hundreds of thousands of seaturtles hatching this week. First time in decades. Anything can be cleaned!”
Similar iterations of this claim have circulated on social media sites such as Twitter, Pinterest and Reddit, with some posts dating back to 2018. (RELATED: Does This Image Show A Real Sea Turtle ‘living In The Waters Of The Atlantic Ocean’?)
The post is misleading. While there was a massive effort made to clean the beach in 2017 and 2018, there is no evidence the beach was later visited by hundreds of thousands of turtles. The Guardian reported in 2018 that at least 80 Olive Ridley turtles hatched on the beach for the first time in decades after the cleanup, not hundreds of thousands.
“At least 80 Olive Ridley turtles have made their way into the Arabian Sea from nests on the southern end of Versova beach in the past week, protected from wild dogs and birds of prey by volunteers who slept overnight in the sand to watch over them,” reads part of the 2018 report. Check Your Fact found no credible news reports about the beach being the site of hundreds of thousands of turtle hatchings since then.
One of the images included in the post is also not from the beach. While the first photo was taken at Versova Beach, according to the Daily Mail, the image showing the turtles was taken at a different location. A reverse image search reveals it was featured in a 2016 article from The Indian Tribune that explains the photo shows turtles hatching at the Rushikulya turtle rookeries, which is located on the other side of the country.