These Are The Surprising Consequences Of Letting Go Of A Balloon On Marine Life

While letting go of a balloon may seem harmless, this simple action can go on to have devastating consequences on marine life.

Source: Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA), a marine life rescue organization, knows all too well about the dangers of plastic waste in oceans and in June, responded to an urgent call.A kind passerby noticed a sea turtlefloating around Redington Long Pier, Florida and realized that the reptile, named Chex, was in danger.Luckily, the staff from CMA rushed to his aid and brought Chex to their medical center, where it was discovered that he had ingested a balloon and was suffering from 'floater syndrome.'

Source: Clearwater Marine Aquarium

'Floater syndrome' is becoming more and more common, and is directly caused by balloons that make their way into oceans after being discarded by humans.Sea turtles mistake these balloons and other pieces of plastic waste in the ocean for jellyfish. They then ingest them, and the hazardous product becomes stuck in their digestive tract which leads to a build up of gas, and so the turtle starts to 'float.'[caption id="attachment_22900" align="alignnone" width="620"]

Turtle suffering from floater syndrome Source: Greenpeace Australia Pacific[/caption]Diving deep into the ocean is crucial to the survival of this species as it allows them to find food and escape predators. Sadly many of these turtles, therefore, starve to death.Dr. Qamar Schuyler from the UQ School of Biological Sciences explains the widespread impact of plastic waste in the ocean:

Unfortunately, what this means is that if the bottom of the food chain is eating plastic, it bio-accumulates up the food chain, and there have been several studies that have looked at food fish – fish that we go out and purchase – and even these fish have plastics in their intestines.

Source: Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Chex's condition was monitored closely for a few days and fortunately, the sea turtle was able to safely pass the balloon himself.

Source: Clearwater Marine Aquarium

However, he still had a long way to go on the road to recovery and began a rehabilitation program. 66 days later, he was ready to be rereleased into his natural habitat.Lauren Bell, a biologist from CMA described the experience to The Dodo:

To say being able to release an endangered species, like Chex, back into the ocean is gratifying would be an understatement.

Source: Clearwater Marine Aquarium

The whole team at the rescue center hopes to educate the public on the dangers of plastic waste in the ocean so that these situations can be avoided. Chex was lucky to be found when he was or his situation could have become much more dangerous.To support the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and help them to continue their amazing work, you can make a donation by clicking here.

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