With more and more people celebrating graduation, birthdays and other celebrations outdoors, the Pacific Whale Watching Association asks people not to toss balloons into the sky or throw them on the ground.
Balloons can pose serious risks to land and sea animals. Deflated balloons can be mistaken for food, and trailing strings can get caught around the neck or limbs. Whales, seals, porpoises, sea lions and birds are just some of the endangered creatures, according to the association.
This year, the association’s naturalists in British Columbia and Washington State have recovered hundreds of balloons, including a single string of 20 graduation party balloons. In the past week alone, they’ve found nearly 100 in the Salish Sea, more than ever before.
|Balloons can pose a serious risk to marine life if they end up in the ocean. (Credit: Valerie Shore/Eagle Wing Tours/PWWA)|
During two recent whale-watching excursions, naturalists aboard a Victoria-based Eagle Wing Tours boat spotted and picked up ten large mylar balloons, which they say could have easily been ingested by whales at humpback or other wild animals.
“While we understand the intentions are celebratory, we urge everyone to fully understand that releasing balloons – of any type, anywhere, anytime – is destructive to the environment,” the company said. naturalist Valerie Shore of Eagle Wing Tours. “For example, a slit-feeding humpback whale may accidentally put a floating balloon in its mouth – and with throats the size of grapefruit, balloons can create huge problems for the whale or other wild animals nearby.”
Balloons can also pose a fire hazard if caught in power lines, transformers and other equipment that could cause sparks, the association noted, adding that unattached balloons cause dozens of outages. every year.
Instead of celebrating with balloons, the association suggests planting trees or flowers in someone’s honor, flying kites, flags or streamers, or handing out magic ribbons to use .
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