19 Sep 2017
What are the most harmful marine pollutants? You may have guessed plastic bags which to marine life look dangerously like delicious jelly fish. And bottles which are very visible on shorelines. But the third? Balloons.
The CSIRO (2016) recently found balloons to be in the top three most harmful pollutants threatening marine wildlife. Clearly all three come from humans and human acitivity.
"We'll be done… when we stop seeing birds and other marine wildlife entangled with balloons.” - Sanders
bluenotes recently met with Ben Sanders, Senior Manager of Conservation Campaigns at Zoos Victoria about what individuals and organisations of all sizes can do to help.
“Most people don't realise the impact that balloons can have on marine wildlife and the harm that they can do when they're released or when they accidentally escape at outdoor events,” Sanders said.
On Lord Howe Island, east of Port Macquarie, more than 80 per cent of flesh-footed Shearwater chicks had plastic in their stomachs after accidentally being fed it by their mums who think that it's food.
Since Zoos Victoria started the “when balloons fly, seabirds die” campaign, they have had over 114,000 individuals and 180 organisations pledge to make the switch from balloons to bubbles at their celebrations.
“The first step is learning about the issue," Sanders said. "Just like individuals, organisations sometimes don't understand the impact that they could be having [on the environment].”
There's always more to be done to help protect our wildlife, according to Sanders, and Zoos Victoria doesn’t expect to see a reduction in the amount of balloon waste in the environment for a few more years.
“We'll be done with this campaign when we stop seeing birds and other marine wildlife entangled with balloons,” he said.
Friends and fauna
ANZ has been a proud sponsor of Zoos Victoria since 2011 and has committed to make the switch from balloons to bubbles at our outdoor events.
You can read more about the #bubblesnotballoons campaign here.
PS: it’s not just marine life threatened by balloon pollution as this extraordinary and disturbing video demonstrates.
Jemma Wight is production editor at bluenotes.
The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.
19 Sep 2017
22 Feb 2018