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|Luckily this one washed ashore before it was mistaken for a jellyfish by a sea turtle or dolphin.|
In 2009, marine biologists with Disney's Animal Programs in Melbourne Beach, Florida, discovered a green sea turtle that was having trouble digesting food. They found that a piece of plastic had lodged in the turtle's gastrointestinal tract. When biologists removed the obstruction, the turtle defecated 74 foreign objects in the subsequent month. Among the items documented were four types of latex balloons, five different types of string, nine different types of soft plastic, four different types of hard plastic, a piece of carpet-like material, and two tar balls to boot.
The list of items from this one turtle read like a catalog of a growing and deadly concern for virtually all marine animals-single-use plastics are having a lethal effect on animals living in the sea.
This photo is courtesy of Ocean Conservancy to a Longwood University article.
What can you do? If you visit a grocery store that gives away helium balloons to children, don't take one! Discourage friends from events where mass balloon releases are planned. Be aware that you will be part of a global movement to ban the release and indiscriminate sales of party balloons.
For more ideas, visit the Ocean Conservancy website.
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