Thaaragai Aarathana from Chennai always had a special bond with the ocean. “We should not hold our breath while diving. It is the first and the most important rule in scuba diving,” she says.

She started diving at the early age of five. Her father, Aravind Tharunsri, is a scuba diving expert, who is also her biggest cheerleader.

“She has developed a love for the ocean and deeply cares for the marine ecosystem that is under constant threat,” he says.

The father-daughter duo has been on a mission to clean the beaches and the ocean as well as to raise awareness of marine pollution.

Aravind started doing ocean and shore clean-ups over 17 years ago and has collected over 10,000 kg of plastic to date.

Now, he is accompanied by his eight-year-old daughter, and together they have collected 600 kg of plastic bottles so far.

He informs, “We sell to plastic scrap shops who later recycle the same. Thaaragai now wishes to donate the money raised from selling the plastic waste to the Department of Environment, Tamil Nadu.”

Aravind advocates the need for raising awareness about marine life in children. He says, “It is essential to inculcate such values in children from a younger age as they represent the future generation.”

Thaaragai is also raising awareness about protecting endangered marine animals, especially the dugong (sea cow).

“When I grow up, I also want to be a diving master just like my father,” she remarks.