EDITORIAL| Balloons and the ocean

BALLONS are perceived as a celebration of life: The birth of a child, grand openings, fairs, birthdays, get well wishes, and anniversaries, among others. But for marine animals, balloons may mean death, as do other forms of plastic. Balloons are ingested by whales, dolphins, turtles, seals, fish and water-fowl, who innocently believe they are food such as jellyfish or squid. ONCE YOU KNOW BALLOONS BRING DEATH, YOU CAN ACT.” Save the Whales (http://encenter.org)

Scientific researchers have shown that balloons are hazards to the environment. When they return to land after they are released on air, they come down as liter that can kill animals including those in the ocean. They are mistaken for food and eaten or swallowed by the animals including marine turtles, dolphins, whales, fish and birds. Close to home, most of the dolphins and turtles found dead had plastic, ribbons and strings on their stomachs.

Davao Gulf is home to a large marine turtle population, with five of the seven species found in the gulf. It is also the home  of migratory cetaceans like whales and dolphins. A 2004 survey by DA-BFAR, the Save Davao Gulf Foundation, Inc. (SDGFI), and the WWF- Philippines, confirmed the presence of 11 cetaceans in the Gulf making it the second top cetacean diversity sight in the Philippines, next to Babuyan Islands that has 13.

Darrell Blatchley, conservationist and curator of the D’Bone Collector Museum, said that animals mistake the balloons or other plastics for food like jelly fish since, contrary to Mahipus’ claims, some of them navigate through echolocation and not through sight. He cited a balloon-releasing activity in Mati had some of the balloons floating in Davao City three days later.

The environment is endangered as it is. Saving what is left of it is the challenge of the world as highlighted in the Paris summit on Climate Change this week. Locally, we can help by not releasing balloons now or in the future.

Posted in Opinion