When Thaaragai Aarathana was just about five years old she had started picking up litter from roads. It hurt her that people were callous and cared little about the environment.
At 8, this young scuba diver from Chennai, a southern state in India, has made it her mission to create awareness about marine pollution. She regularly scuba dives to clean the ocean and its shores that are being littered with plastics.
“When I started collecting plastics from the road side (at the age of five), not many people encouraged me. Most of them teased me,” she says. Aarathana, an avid wildlife enthusiast works diligently to protect marine life. She deep interest lies especially with the dugong. “It looks like a mermaid, I want to save this species from ghost nets and plastics,” she adds. She notes they are an endangered species and despite her frequent dives, sees them rarely.
Already an inspiration in her community, Aarathana goes scuba diving with her father, Aravind Tharunsri. They collect debris of nets, plastic bottles, etc. Her work has inspired her friends and other children from the community to collect plastics from the shore. At times Aarathana gets dejected, as she shares, “I believe we are not able to see many animals now which were present earlier.”
For now, Aarathana is busy educating her peers. And when she is older, she wants to be a diving master. Just like her father.