Think Twice before Releasing a Balloon

Balloons along San Luis Obispo county beaches. Photos by Kimberly May Paradis.

It’s graduation season which means celebrations. It’s breeding season along our coast which means plovers scurrying along the beaches, seabirds bringing fish to their young, and sea lions and elephant seals growing and learning to swim. Snowy Plover monitors in San Luis Obispo county recently alerted us to the fact that while they were out surveying this past week, they found a distressing number of balloons suddenly littering miles and miles of our beaches. The matter is simple – balloons not only litter – they kill wildlife. The state of California has recognized the threat caused by helium balloons in law:

“No person or group shall release, outdoors, balloons made of electrically conductive material and filled with a gas lighter than air, as part of a public or civic event, promotional activity, or product advertisement.”

The County of Fairfax took it one step further in 2012, baning the release of latex balloons:

Whatever the type of balloon, marine mammals and sea turtles can perceive balloons as food such as jellyfish and balloons on shore can cause entanglement in birds feet and necks. Please help protect coastal wildlife by spreading the word about the threats of balloons.

How you can help, right now