Thaaragai Arathana An eight-year-old girl from Chennai is an environmental hero. With the help of her father, Aravind Tharunsri, she is fishing out the plastic from the ocean while scuba diving. Thaaragai’s father Aravind is a scuba diving instructor, and he has introduced his daughter to the water from an early age itself.
Aravind runs a scuba diving centre in Chennai and Puducherry. Aravind has been into scuba diving for over 20 years, and he wanted his daughter to have early exposure to the ocean and the marine ecosystem. He thinks it’s important for children to learn swimming from a very young age. Now his daughter Thaaragai has developed a love for the ocean and deeply cares for the marine ecosystem that is under constant threat.
Aravind introduced Thaaragai to the water as early as when she was just three days old. By the time she was nine months old she had begun to float in water and by the time she was two and a half years old she had begun to swim. By the age of five, Thaaragai started diving in shallow waters and by the time she was seven she was very comfortable with diving and swimming.
Aside from scuba diving, this father-daughter duo had been on a mission to clean up the oceans and make them free of plastic waste. They are also trying to spread awareness about marine pollution.
“Being a scuba diver, I have been witnessing the extent of pollution and how it is affecting the marine ecosystem. So, the least I could do is to create awareness and to do clean-ups, which is in my capacity,” says Aravind who has been a professional scuba diver since 2007. He has been doing ocean and shore clean-up for over 17 years and has collected around 10,000 kg of plastic waste.
Now Aravind is accompanied by his daughter. Together they have collected up to 600 Kg of plastic bottles from the waters. They sell these bottles to scrap shops who later recycle them. Thaaragai now wishes to donate the money raised from selling plastic to the Department of Environment, Tamil Nadu.
Thaaragai says that she loves spending time doing clean-ups at the beaches and in the ocean. Apart from beach and ocean clean-up, Thaaragai is also raising awareness on protecting endangered marine animals, especially the Dugong (sea cow). Thaaragai says, “All the plastics and nets inside the ocean makes it difficult for the marine animals to survive. So, it is important to do something to save them from the threat. It is also applicable for other land animals as well.”
With her father assisting her, to bring attention to the cause of conserving marine life, Thaaragai recently swam an 18-km stretch, from Covelong to Neelankari, under the theme ‘Save the Ocean’. She set a record in Assist World Records.
– Poorna Krishnan