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!