If you’ve ever dropped balloons at a graduation, birthday party, or other celebration, you probably haven’t thought about where they would end up.
But something so simple can have deadly consequences for the wildlife of the Pacific Northwest, including whales, seals, porpoises, sea lions, otters, as well as birds and land animals, said the Pacific Whale Watch Association.
PWWA is sounding the alarm and urging people not to drop balloons for any reason.
PWWA naturalists in British Columbia and Washington said they have seen and recovered hundreds of balloons so far this year and found more than ever in the Salish Sea.
In the past week alone, nearly 100 balloons have been recovered, and on two recent whale watching tours, naturalists picked up ten large mylar party balloons that could have easily been ingested by humpback whales. or other wildlife nearby, PWWA said.
Naturalists have said the balloon release is destructive to the environment and dangerous to wildlife.
“For example, a slit-feeding humpback whale may accidentally put a floating balloon in its mouth – and with a throat the size of a grapefruit, the balloons can create huge problems for the whale or other wildlife nearby, ”said Valerie Shore, a naturalist with Eagle Wing Tours, based in Victoria, BC.
Balloons can also cause fires if they get tangled in power lines, transformers and other equipment. This possibility is reinforced by the record heat this week and the resulting drought.
PWWA suggested alternatives to releasing balloons, such as planting trees or flowers in honor of someone, flying kites, flags, banners or inflatables, or displaying garden tops.
For more information visit www.pacificwhalewatchassociation.com
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