Monday, June 30, 2014

Balloons---Don't let them go!

June 30, 2014

I've been working with Bonnie Monteleone of the Plastic Ocean Project on a poster display for our sea turtle sculpture that is currently on hanging at The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center in Surf City.  (The sea turtle is made of trash that was picked up by KIC volunteers.)

Part of the poster focuses on sea turtles and balloons.  KIC has educated about balloons for years.  We know they are dangerous for the environment and specifically for sea turtles because they can resemble food when they (balloons) are in the ocean.  While doing tours at the hospital, I often tell kids about the sea turtles who have defecated balloons while being a patient at the sea turtle hospital.  I also remind kids that releasing balloons is actually the same as littering.  I hate to be a kill joy, but when you know, you change your ways, right?  I have certainly changed mine.

KIC has also educated about the entanglement issues with the balloons strings and ribbons.  Here is a photo from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission that explains just how hazardous these strings can be to wildlife.

So…. you can imagine how frustrating I have been to have found balloons during every sea turtle nesting patrol I have done this season.  It is also frustrating to know that KIC volunteers have removed 54 balloons from Wrightsville Beach in less than two months and nearby Atlantic Beach has removed 194!

I found 4 balloons today.  The one pictured here actually had a light inside.  I'm sure that makes the balloons very "pretty" and "attractive" for those who are releasing them.  But, the balloon does not have the same effect once it has burst and has landed in our beautiful environment.

balloon on WB

Discovering that the same balloon has a light inside.  The light was still burning.
On one section of my patrol, I thought I saw a plastic bag in the dunes, but when I went to retrieve it, I found it was a mylar balloon. The balloon had been in the environment long enough for all of the color to be faded or washed away.  This would surely look like a jelly fish in the ocean to a sea turtle. 

Now that I have ranted about balloons, I have to say the beach was very pleasant this morning.  We found little trash and that is always nice.  It was low tide, so I am concerned that the trash may have been swept away during the high tide.  Nevertheless, it was a beautiful morning.

Here is the inventory of finds:

26 butts
26 food wrappers
15 plastic bottle caps
1 metal bottle cap
4 plastic lids
19 straws/stirrers
1 plastic spoon
6 plastic bottles
2 glass bottles
1 aluminum can
1 plastic grocery bag
3 other plastic bags
1 paper cup
2 foam cups
1 foam packaging
1 strapping band
2 tobacco packaging  
1 condom wrapper
2 baby wipes
2 dryer sheets
19 toys/pieces of toys
You may leave your sand castle, but please take your plastic one home with you.

4 balloons
1 piece of duct tape
1 rubber band
6 plastic zip ties
6 foam pieces
23 plastic pieces
43 paper pieces
1 chapstick
1 ace bandage
3 shoes
1 plastic lei
3 clothing chords (drawstring like)

Watching the sun rise over the ocean never gets old!

Our zone ends at Crystal Pier and it is always a great photo op.  
We love that Crystal Pier has placed a board at the bottom of their dining deck rail this year that further prevents straws, sugar packets, napkins, etc. from blowing off.  It has been much cleaner under and around the pier this year.


No comments:

Post a Comment