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In Rio, a 4-year-old girl clears plastic waste from the ocean

Nina Gomes, seen here collecting garbage in the sea at Praia Vermelha beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is no average environmentalist. With bright pink goggles and just 4 years old, she picks trash with her father from the water along the beaches of Rio de Janeiro.

REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
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Nina Gomes, seen here collecting garbage in the sea at Praia Vermelha beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is no average environmentalist. With bright pink goggles and just 4 years old, she picks trash with her father from the water along the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

Jul 22, 2021 11:13 AM EDT
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"She is already a mini-defender of the ocean," her father said. With Nina in tow, Gomes sets out on a paddleboard into the picturesque but polluted waters of Rio's Guanabara Bay, where she grabs plastic bottles and bags and puts them in a mesh net. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

Jul 22, 2021 11:13 AM EDT
Asked why she collects waste from the sea, she says: \
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Asked why she collects waste from the sea, she says: "Because (otherwise) fish and turtles die." REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

Jul 22, 2021 11:13 AM EDT
Eleven million tons of plastic are discarded into the ocean every year, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. Plastic debris can be deadly to seabirds and marine life, with hundreds and thousands of marine mammals dying each year by consuming or being trapped in plastic waste. 

REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
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Eleven million tons of plastic are discarded into the ocean every year, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. Plastic debris can be deadly to seabirds and marine life, with hundreds and thousands of marine mammals dying each year by consuming or being trapped in plastic waste. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

Jul 22, 2021 11:13 AM EDT
Ricardo Gomes, who made a film in 2017 about the underwater world of Guanabara Bay, was inspired by the birth of his daughter to start Instituto Mar Urbano, a Rio-based group dedicated to fighting marine disasters.

REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
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Ricardo Gomes, who made a film in 2017 about the underwater world of Guanabara Bay, was inspired by the birth of his daughter to start Instituto Mar Urbano, a Rio-based group dedicated to fighting marine disasters. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

Jul 22, 2021 11:13 AM EDT
Nina Gomes plays with shells at home. Studies by Brazil’s Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation found that there were upwards of 400 distinct species of birds, fish, reptiles and mammals that live within or in the periphery of Guanabara Bay. Thousands of Rio residents also rely on the bay to support their livelihoods through fishing. More than 10 million people live in the areas surrounding the bay.

REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
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Nina Gomes plays with shells at home. Studies by Brazil’s Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation found that there were upwards of 400 distinct species of birds, fish, reptiles and mammals that live within or in the periphery of Guanabara Bay. Thousands of Rio residents also rely on the bay to support their livelihoods through fishing. More than 10 million people live in the areas surrounding the bay. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

Jul 22, 2021 11:13 AM EDT
Nina Gomes prepares to enter the sea to collect garbage in the Praia Vermelha beach in Rio de Janeiro. Her father hopes that Nina’s example will serve to inspire love and empathy and also help break public apathy that surrounds environmental protection in Brazil. \
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Nina Gomes prepares to enter the sea to collect garbage in the Praia Vermelha beach in Rio de Janeiro. Her father hopes that Nina’s example will serve to inspire love and empathy and also help break public apathy that surrounds environmental protection in Brazil. "Kids who are raised only within concrete will not become defenders of nature, of the ocean," Gomes said. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

Jul 22, 2021 11:13 AM EDT
Nina Gomes collects garbage on the sea accompanied by her father Ricardo Gomes. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
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Nina Gomes collects garbage on the sea accompanied by her father Ricardo Gomes. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

Jul 22, 2021 11:13 AM EDT
Nina Gomes collects garbage on the sea accompanied by her father Ricardo Gomes. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
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Nina Gomes collects garbage on the sea accompanied by her father Ricardo Gomes. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

Jul 22, 2021 11:13 AM EDT
Nina Gomes collects garbage on the sea accompanied by her father Ricardo Gomes. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
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Nina Gomes collects garbage on the sea accompanied by her father Ricardo Gomes. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

Jul 22, 2021 11:13 AM EDT
Nina Gomes stands next to photos of her father, marine biologist and director of the NGO Instituto Mar Urbano, Ricardo Gomes, at her home in Rio de Janeiro. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
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Nina Gomes stands next to photos of her father, marine biologist and director of the NGO Instituto Mar Urbano, Ricardo Gomes, at her home in Rio de Janeiro. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

Jul 22, 2021 11:13 AM EDT
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