Local marine conservation organisation Azraq is urging organisations to reconsider balloon releases as we enter the season of celebrations and events.

 As part of their #balloonsblow mission, the entity has already reached out to one local developer who released balloons as part of the UAE National Day celebrations, in order to raise awareness of the impacts of balloon releases on bird and sealife, particularly turtles who mistake burst balloons as jellyfish and ultimately die as a result of suffocation.

 Managing Director for Azraq, Natalie Banks stated that many people fail to associate the beauty of a balloon release with the tragedy after these balloons land back down on land and in the oceans.

 “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 to death. The animals can also become entangled in the balloon and its ribbon making the animal unable to move or eat,” Ms Banks said.

 “Sea turtles are particularly at risk because they naturally prey on jellyfish, which balloons can easily be mistaken for.”

 The #balloonsblow initiative in the United Arab Emirates following on from a similar campaign in the United States. Azraq believes that with just a little awareness and knowledge, organisations are willing to consider alternatives to celebrate special occurrences such as blowing giant bubbles, flying kites or planting trees.

 “Ultimately we need to move on from creating litter as a result of balloon releases and causing havoc for wildlife,” Ms Banks said.

 “If there is an alternative that doesn’t result in the death or harms to animals which is also cheaper and life sustaining, then it makes much more sense to consider this alternative.”

Photo Credit: Mylar balloons and a long beaked common dolphin Photo Shane Keena - Dana Point California