Author Erin Pettifer
Hundreds of celebratory balloons soaring up into the sky, until theyíre just a speck on the horizonÖ destination unknown!
A secret message in a bottle, launched into the seaÖ drifting who knows where? Maybe to be found by a stranger in some far flung exotic place...
We can all relate to that rush of excitement and whimsical adventure associated with these stories in the press. But, moving away from the romance of it all and thinking more clearly about their final destination is slightly more sobering.
With a message in a bottle thrown into the sea, we have to ask ourselves would we so willingly litter our streets, our parks, our treasured nature reserves? When we litter our seas, itís a classic case of Ďout of sight, out of mindí. But, just because we canít see where these bottles and balloons end up, it doesnít mean their impact on our wildlife isnít potentially devastating.
Some figures to sober us furtherÖ
ē There are 2,000 items of litter for every kilometre on a beach. Put another way, for every footstep you take on the beach there are two pieces of litter!
ē Dolphins, whales, turtles, seabirds and other marine animals have all been harmed or killed by becoming entangled in our litter or accidentally ingesting it.
ē Balloons are mistaken for food by many animals, especially turtles who take them for jellyfish. These can then block their stomachs causing them to starve. The string on balloons can entangle and trap animals, potentially causing them to drown.
ē Plastic is the biggest offender, constituting a massive 75% of all litter recorded!
ē Plastic never biodegrades but instead just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. Microplastic particles are now being found inside filter feeders who sieve their food from seawater and amongst sand grains on beaches!
The facts are shocking.
As much as I always want to keep my childlike sense of fun and adventure (and whole heartedly support everyone else who strives for this too!), letís always think about the bigger picture in our actions and make sure weíre not harming anything else through what weíre doing. So, next time you go to an event releasing balloons or someone suggests doing a message in a bottle what thoughts will flash through your mind now? Will you think twice and picture the final destination?
Join our campaign to protect UK seas: Petition Fish
Credits: Marine Conservation Society litter facts (www.mcsuk.org)