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10,000 Balloons - What Goes Up, Must Come Down!

10,000 Balloons:  What Goes Up Must Come Down!


ocean trash, marine debris, 10000 balloons, balloons
10,000 balloons were released in San Francisco as part of a promotion for a video game.
© Lacy Atkins/SF Chronicle


A recent marketing stunt involving the release of 10,000 red balloons into the skies above San Francisco and resulting in many landing into the Bay has sparked quite a bit of conversation about thoughtless human activities that impact the waterways and marine life. So why are balloons, plastic soda ring containers and other carelessly discarded items destined to become ocean trash harmful to seals, sea lions, and birds?

Although the company involved claims the balloons are biodegradable, the end result is the same. “There’s still an immediate threat to wildlife,” explained Ann Bauer, director of education at The Marine Mammal Center. “It’s biodegradable over time, but a bird can still get entangled in it right now. A sea lion could swallow it.”

And it's not just birds and marine mammals that face danger from this type of pollution. Many types of animals can be harmed. Sperm whales, for example, were the focus of a recent paper co-authored by the Center that centered on the issue of marine debris.  Jacobsen, J.K., Massey, L., and Gulland, F. 2010. Fatal ingestion of floating marine debris by two sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus). Marine Pollution Bulletin 60:765-767.

Learn how you can prevent ocean trash today on our Stop Trashing Our Oceans page!


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