Ban Balloons from UVA Activities and Ceremonies
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While a multitude of ascending colorful balloons against the backdrop of a bright blue sky may be a brilliant sight to behold, “what goes up must come down” – and when balloons do, the consequences are deadly for wildlife. When they finally descend, 70 percent of the time they end up in one of the world’s oceans. Not only do they become obvious environmental eyesores when washed ashore, they also needlessly kill numerous animals.
Animals both on land and in the oceans frequently misidentify deflated balloons as sources of food. Endangered sea turtles are especially vulnerable. Jellyfish are a common prey item for sea turtles, and often the animals consume deflated balloons floating on the water’s surface, thinking they are a suitable food source. This leads to stomach or intestinal blockages and eventual starvation. All seven species of marine turtle are near extinction and many turtles of two species in particular, the Loggerhead and Leatherback turtle, have been found with balloons in their guts.
In addition, naturally curious animals such as birds and dolphins are attracted to bright colors and shiny objects and also end up mistakenly ingesting the balloons.
Accidental consumption isn’t the only danger associated with balloons – the strings or ribbons attached to them are just as harmful. Birds often get entangled, and then become unable to fly, facing certain death. Flippers and fins of sea turtles, seals and dolphins can also become wrapped in string, causing infections, amputations and/or death by drowning.
We should ask UVA's Office of Major Events to ban balloons, especially helium balloons, from all UVA activities and ceremonies. I want to leave a legacy at UVA that makes it even better.
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