Balloons, Birds, Turtles and Us

Who doesn’t love balloons? They represent so many positive and happy occasions from the birth of babies to birthday parties, carnivals, weddings, car sales and so many other important or pleasant events.

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But there is another side to balloons; one that is forgotten or never even considered….. thousands and thousands of balloons end up escaping.  Is there a secret party “out there” where all escaped balloons meet and party? No. It isn’t that pretty.

Picture the darling little 4 year old, playing with a balloon, laughing and joyous over such a simple toy. Then the balloon escapes, up it flies out of reach and the child cries, heartbroken.

Understandably, the parent spends his or her time comforting the child and the balloon is long forgotten.

But the balloon now seeks its own life’s path floating higher and further as the wind carries it along an unknown route. After a beautiful, carefree flight of perhaps hundreds of miles, the balloon slowly looses air and begins it’s descent wherever it is blown.

A sad end that is actually the beginning of tragedy because now that faded, deflated balloon with it’s bright colored ribbon still attached is about to begin a one balloon death campaign.

Perhaps the bright color will fool an unsuspecting sea turtle that will eat the balloon thinking it is food.

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Photo credit to NOAA/Blair Whitherington

Perhaps the turtle is smart enough to realize the balloon is plastic and not food, but in it’s curiosity it swims around the balloon and becomes entangled in the brightly colored string. Soon its movement is restricted and it can no longer swim.

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Photo credit to NOAA/Blair Whitherington

These two simple examples will result in the eventual starvation of one turtle and the death of the other as well.

Dolphins, whales and seals have all been found with balloons and other plastics in their stomachs. See this short article by John Metcalfe for additional information and links about balloons in the oceans and on the shores.

Actually, you might be surprised just how many birds, turtles, fish etc end up dying as a result of balloons, strings, fishing lines and other waste that someone simply didn’t recognize as a death trap.

Of course, this was not intentional.  A 4 year old has no idea her balloon could cause such havoc.  But we, the adults, need to raise our awareness.

I am not advocating that you stop celebrating! I love to celebrate, but next time, perhaps alternatives to balloons can be used.

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Bubbles are pretty and fun to pop.

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Ribbon streamers come in different lengths and colors.

Or perhaps you could have ribbon streamers on wands – they are engaging and make beautiful dances as children and adults wave them around.

This article Environmentally-Friendly offers many alternatives to balloons.

I’m not posting horrific pictures of dead birds or turtles in this blog, but I am asking that you help increase awareness of your own choices and perhaps share your decisions with others.

Posted on July 3, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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