Bubbles Over Balloons: Why Miami needs to finally ban balloons

UP UP AND AWAY

I remember in elementary school writing my name on an index card affixed to the string of a balloon and in a mass release, watching hundreds of balloons disappear into the sky.  The idea was to see how far our balloons traveled.

 

Many of the balloons didn’t even make it passed city limits.

 

Now, anyone who releases 10 or more balloons at a time in the state of Florida faces a $250 fine and potential jail time.

 

The Legislature finds that the release into the atmosphere of large number of balloons poses a danger and nuisance to wildlife and marine animals.  This is especially the case in south Florida where the likelihood of a balloon ending up in the ocean is high, if not inevitable.

 

 

SEA TURTLES HAVE A TASTE FOR BALLOON BITS

 Photo credit: Devoted to the Ocean

Photo credit: Devoted to the Ocean

 

You may want to consider celebrating your next anniversary with bubbles rather than balloons.

 

Since March of this year, 568 balloons have been discovered in a 9.5 mile survey area outside of the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach.  Latex does not completely breakdown in water, much less saltwater.  The tiny pieces of latex that remain just below the oceans’ surface become a threat to juvenile sea turtles.

 

Studies have shown that young loggerhead sea turtles are attracted to balloon bits, actively swimming towards and ingesting the debris.  Over time, the accumulation of balloon debris in their guts causes dangerous blockages and reduces nutrient absorption.

 

 

According to Tommy Cutt, Chief Conservation Officer at the Loggerhead Marinlife Center (LMC) in Juno Beach,

“…deflated balloons resemble jellyfish, a common prey item for sea turtles…hospital staff (at the LMC) regularly treat sea turtles that have ingested marine debris, including balloons.”

To raise awareness of balloons’ impact on local wildlife, the Loggerhead Marinelife Center initiated the Balloon Ban project in April.  Already, cities and towns in Martin, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties are applying the non-profit’s Balloon Ban in town beaches, parks and other community locations in an effort to reduce marine debris.

 

The 130 mile stretch from Martin to Miami-Dade County is home to some of the most densely utilized sea turtle nesting beaches in the country.  Living mindful of how our actions affect the ocean is our duty as Miamians.

 

 

THE BALLOON BUSTER

 

 

One woman in St. Augustine Beach is stepping up her actions and pushing for an additional ordinance that targets helium balloon venders.

 

 Jane West, the attorney proposing the ordinance is also the Planning and Zoning Board Chairperson and is asking the city to ban the sale of these balloons. This would apply to two business in St. Augustine Beach: Publix and Dollar General Tree.

 

The ban on the sale of balloons has since been pushed from being in effect only St. Augustine Beach to covering the entire county.

“I think that this is a great result,” West said after the meeting. “It’s more regional and comprehensive in scope.”

The anti-balloon campaign group, Balloons Blow , wants to hear from anyone interested in partnering with LMC to ban balloons in designation locations.

Contact Tommy Cutts at (561) 627-8280 ext. 122 or email Tommy Cutt at tcutt@marinelife.org