08 April 2012

Why balloons by the sea is heart-breaking

This morning, we came across lots of burst balloons right next to the shore at St. John's Island.
We dropped everything to stop and remove every small colourful bit that we could find. Why are burst balloons a threat to marine life?

Balloons, plastic bags, nylon rope, styrofoam are swallowed by sea turtles which mistake these for jellyfish, according to a study by the Earthwatch Turtles in Trouble program.
Exploded balloon floating in seagrass
An exploded ballon looks very much like a jellyfish!
This was seen at Cyrene Reef.
The report provides more evidence that sea turtles are selectively preferring to eat soft plastics over other types of rubbish. Find out more about how balloons and soft plastic kill sea turtles, slowly and painfully.

From the arrangement of the bits, which included a bar of soap, it appears some people had played a game which involved deliberately bursting balloons. The burst bits were very close to the beach. After playing the game, it appears these people simply walked off.
There were actually three piles of burst balloons, each with a bar of soap. So there must have been three groups playing this game.
It took Nicole, Kok Sheng and I only about 5 minutes to pick up all the pieces. So it would not have been too much trouble for the people who played the game to also pick up after themselves.
These pieces are small and colourful. All kinds of marine life from sea turtles to fishes might find these attractive and mistake them for their natural food. Sea turtles can die a slow and painful death from accidentally eating soft plastic rubbish like burst balloons.

It's important to clean up after ourselves!

You CAN make a difference about marine litter! To celebrate Earth Day, International Coastal Cleanup Singapore is holding a Clean Up at Tanah Merah on 28 Apr (Sat).

But aside from this, today we had a great trip at St. John's Island with lots of sea stars in 'mating position' and more amazing marine life sightings!

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