Thousands of sea turtles did not hatch on Indian beach this week

12 October 2021
What was claimed

A major clean-up of an Indian beach led to hundreds of thousands sea turtles hatching along its coast this week.

Our verdict

The clean-up happened over three years ago. At least 80 turtles were spotted there afterwards, not hundreds of thousands. A photo claiming to show the beach after the clean-up, covered in turtles, was taken on the other side of India.

A post on Facebook suggests that a clean-up at a beach in India has led to the reappearance of “hundreds of thousands” of sea turtles. 

The post states: “It took 96 weeks and thousands of volunteers to clean up Versova Beach in Mumbai, India. The payoff? Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles hatching this week. First time in decades. Anything can be cleaned!”

The post shows a photo when the beach was covered in waste and another of sea turtles approaching the ocean.

It’s a nice image and the post is partly based in fact. 

Versova Beach in Mumbai was covered in waste before a 90-week clean-up effort which led to new sightings of Olive Ridley turtles in 2018. 

However,  after the clean-up, there were no reported sightings of “hundreds of thousands” of sea turtles hatching. Most reports account for 80 Olive Ridley turtles being spotted.  

Since then the claim “hundreds of thousands” of sea turtles “this week” has been misleadingly repeated on multiple occasions.

Furthermore, the photo of the turtles in the Facebook post was not taken at Versova Beach but at the Rushikulya turtle rookeries, a popular turtle nesting site on the opposite coast of India. 

This may be the source of the confusion. It has been reported that hundreds of thousands of Olive Ridley turtles nested at Rushikulya rookery in 2018, not on Versova Beach near Mumbai.  

The Times of India and Hindustan Times also reported earlier this year that the turtles’ habitat on Versova Beach may now be in danger due to development.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as partly false because the clean-up and turtle sightings happened three years ago, hundreds of thousands of turtles were not spotted at Versova Beach, and the “after” picture is not from Versova Beach.

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