An Unsuspected Deadly Weapon

Mass releases of balloons are a popular way to celebrate special events.

What could possibly be “deadly” about that?

Lets talk.

In the mid 1980’s, a female sperm whale died on the New Jersey coast.  Marine scientists, examining the corpse, found a swallowed, indigestible balloon blocking its intestinal tract. Unable to digest food, the whale had starved to death.

For reasons yet unknown, schools of squid, a sperm whale’s preferred food, like to hang out around pieces of plastic.  The hungry whale swallows the balloon with the squid, thus setting the stage for another disaster.

Balloons don’t just rise and later fall locally.  They can travel great distances.

In one test, a balloon released in Ohio took just two days to reach the South Carolina coast.

Balloons falling into the ocean quickly loose color. And with ribbons, strings, or streamers attached their appearance easily fools sea turtles into thinking they’re eating jellyfish, their favorite food.

With their intestinal tracts blocked by the indigestible balloons, they, like whales, starve to death.

For most of us, fair questions are:  “Who knew?”  and  “What to do?”

First, let’s not release our balloons.  Let’s hold onto them, pop ’em and trash ’em.

Second, if our groups are planning mass balloon releases, let’s (politely) make sure  folks know about the hazards.


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