Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I found your stinking balloons!

For those of you who know me or have read my previous post about my work know that when I am in the field portion of my job a walk large tracts of isolated forests. It is so fun going out to these places because I never know what I might find or see. Neat rocks or fossils, animal skulls, a big whitetail buck, waterfalls, cool caterpillars and birds. The possibilities are endless. But one thing I seem to find nearly every time that I am out is balloons, which is not something I want to find. In fact it became kind of the running joke last year because I would find one every single time I was out. The one day I didn't, the forester I was working with said at the end of the day, "Oh Jen, I found this for you!", and pulled a deflated old balloon out of her pocket! I poked around on the Internet so see if released (intentional or not) balloons were drawn to forested areas. I didn't find anything, but I wouldn't be surprised if the air somehow directs these things down to the larger forests as the trees are participating in gaseous exchanges with the atmosphere.

Just yesterday I found this hanging in a tree while I was out working. One of the websites I looked at mentioned that many of the balloons go down on the oceans and the fish and fowl, thinking them jellyfish (does that picture not look like a jellyfish to you??) consume them and then die. Now I doubt that many things in the forest would eat them because they really don't resemble any kind of prey item, however it's litter and shouldn't be there. Latex balloons, being made of rubber which is derived from tree sap do break down, however they still are ugly and dangerous to our wildlife. Most balloons also have ribbons and or plastic things tied to them and these do not break down. So please think about these things and discourage balloon releases. Lets opt for something like butterfly or dove releases instead. Or heck, just blow on a dandelion!

5 comments:

Brook said...

I too, don't believe in balloon releases. It is amazing how much that does resemble a jellyfish. So sad that an animal would it and possibly die because of it. I'm actually surprised that balloon releases have not been outlawed as littering. I guess it is okay to litter as long as it ends up in some other town.

Alex Houston said...

Totally with you on this one! When I was in NC working for the wildlife resources commission I spent a lot of time on small coastal islands and guess what we found in droves? That's right, balloons. I hate them. They should also outlaw plastic shopping bags in coastal areas for the same reason...

Bumble's Bounce said...

So, last year Berk's gramma died and I did all this "research" and found all sorts of articles that "claimed" it was safe. So, Yes....I'm stupid. I believed everything that told me they disintegrate as quickly as a leaf...blah blah blah...I called Brook...oh and um, guess what?! She yelled at me! I thought I did everything I was to do, and that it WAS ok.....apparently not. I felt bad about it, and do not plan on doing it ever again. Great post. Hopefully if anyone searches "BALLOON RELEASE ENVIRONMENT" YOUR post will come up instead of the gobbly goop I found.

D said...

I don't know what source you found that said there are thing that eat jellyfish...as far as I know jellyfish are overpopulating the oceans and have no known predators, like Canadian geese. Don't get me wrong, I get extremely annoyed with litter in any context, be it woodlands of urban.

Butts said...

Pretty much everything has predators although they may not be common. Jellyfish are known to be eaten by Gobys, spadefish, ocean sunfish, Loggerhead and Leatherback Sea Turtles and even some carnivorios corals. Check out this cool pic! http://earthfirst.com/awesome-photo-predatory-coral-eats-jellyfish/ Thanks for all the comments!