What Goes Up, Must Come Down…and sometimes gets stuck.
While trying to #socialdistance and keep our children entertained this week we rented kayaks for the afternoon from our friends at Higher Ground Outfitters. We were able to enjoy a beautiful family fun day full of sunshine, fresh air with plenty of distance from others. After 3 hours of paddling around Factory Creek, we decided to do one final ‘lap’ under the downtown Beaufort, SC Woods Memorial Bridge.
On our way back around we noticed a bright pink helium balloon tangled in the oysters on a bridge pylon. Thankfully, the tide was coming back up so we were able to cruise on over and grab it with our paddle – saving it from falling into the river.
To my 6-year-old daughter’s delight, it was a bright pink unicorn Birthday balloon. As much as she wanted to hang onto it, both of our children have learned by growing up here just how dangerous balloons can be to our local sea life. As an animal lover, she was delighted to help make this amazing ‘rescue’ to protect any living creature.
In the midst of all of our current chaos in this world, we are extremely happy to report that no birds, sea turtles or other sea life were harmed by this killer pink balloon. Not today unicorn…not today.
Please Consider these Pollution-Free Alternatives to Balloon Releases from South Carolina Department of Natural Resources…
Spring brings many reasons to celebrate, from graduation ceremonies to Mother’s Day. Some people choose to mark special occasions by releasing balloons.
The problem is that each and every released balloon eventually deflates and returns to earth, where it becomes trash that can endanger wildlife. Rains carry everything downstream, which is why such trash often ends up in our waterways and, eventually, the ocean.
“Sea turtles love to eat jellyfish, and unfortunately, balloons look remarkably like jellies when floating in the water,” said sea turtle biologist Michelle Pate. Research suggests that ingesting plastics does not typically kill marine wildlife such as sea turtles directly, but rather weakens them by taking up space in their digestive systems that are needed for nutrient-rich food.
The balloons themselves are not the only hazard to wildlife. Like a discarded fishing line, plastic balloon ribbons can entangle birds, fish, dolphins, and other animals, causing injury and death in severe cases.
Wildlife-Friendly Alternatives to Balloons
Whether you’re celebrating a milestone such as graduation or honoring the memory of a loved one, consider a pollution-free alternative to balloon releases. There are countless beautiful gestures to mark an occasion that doesn’t put wildlife at risk.
- Create impermanent artwork – Use sidewalk chalk to draw a mural or write messages.
- Hang paper banners, pinwheels, pom poms – For a party, get creative with fun paper decorations.
- Plant wildflowers or a tree – Flowers, and trees offer a beautiful, permanent reminder of a loved one.
- Raise money for a cause – Choose a reputable nonprofit to direct donations to.
- Host a volunteer day – Dedicate your time to a worthy cause. Volunteer at an animal shelter, visit a retirement home or food pantry, or even host your own clean-up in a nearby natural area.
The mission of The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is to serve as the principal advocate for and steward of South Carolina’s natural resources. Keep up with SCDNR’s coastal and marine work by visiting them online at https://sccoastalresources.com
Story by Ginger Wareham, PickleJuice/ESPB