From funerals to weddings, the release of balloons into the air is a common form of tribute, but for our marine life there’s no cause for celebration.
During one of her regular beach clean ups Tina Gogerly was horrified to find a large bunch of balloons washed up on a Forster beach.
From a distance it looked like seaweed.
“Seriously what chance do turtles or other marine creatures have to determine what is real food and what is human made. With our oceans slowly filling with plastic we need to say no to single use items like balloons.”
The Environmental Protection Authority (which comes under the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage) states it is illegal to release 20 or more gas-inflated balloons ‘at or about the same time’.
While allowing for the release of up to 20 balloons the authority admits that any released balloons, at best, become litter with the potential to be ingested by marine animals, blocking their airways or becoming lodged around their bodies or in their intestines.
With our oceans slowly filling with plastic we need to say no to single use items like balloons.Tina Gogerly
But campaigners like Tina would like to see the practice stopped completely and she hopes to do this through education.
Organisations across the world including Balloons Blow based in Florida are also trying to spread the word.
Balloons Blow suggest a range of alternatives to releasing balloons including:
- Blowing bubbles
- Plant a tree
- Reusable flags and banners
- Floating flowers or petals