Impacts of Balloons on Wildlife and the Environment
An Environmental Article from


Balloons Blow...Don't Let Them Go
February 2013

balloon dangerous wildlife

A beach litter survey organized by the Marine Conservation Society has shown the amount of balloons and balloon pieces found on the beach have tripled in the past 10 years. We definitely have proof of that because we’ve been cleaning the beaches since we were little children in the early ’90s, and would rarely find them back then.

balloon dangerous wildlife

While some balloons burst, others just gradually deflate. But they all fall back down to earth where they can wreak havoc on wildlife on land, sea, and air.

balloon dangerous wildlife
This is a rare Guadalupe Fur Seal that was found dead and tethered in balloon ribbon at Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay, CA. Photo: Sue Pemberton

Dolphins, whales, turtles, and many other marine species, as well as terrestrial animals such as cows, dogs, sheep, tortoises, birds and other animals have all been hurt or killed by balloons. The animal is usually killed from the balloon blocking its digestive tract, leaving them unable to take in any more nutrients. It slowly starves death. The animals can also become entangled in the balloon and its ribbon making the animal unable to move or eat.

balloon dangerous wildlife
Fragments of a blue latex balloon found in the stomach of green turtle stranded dead near Blackpool, UK. Photo: Rod Penrose, Marine Environmental Monitoring, UK CSIP

Turtles are particularly at risk because they naturally prey on jellyfish, which balloons can easily be mistaken for, even with human eyes.

balloon dangerous wildlife

Balloons can take years to break down, even the so-called “biodegradable” latex ones. This gives plenty of time for it to travel and encounter many animals that may mistake it for a tasty snack, or accidentally get entangled in it.

The government has even taken action against balloon releases. Some states and countries have even made mass balloon releases illegal altogether. Check out balloon laws in your state to find out.

balloon dangerous wildlife

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