Campaigners call for mass balloon launches to be outlawed

Campaigners call for mass balloon launches to be outlawed after dozens are spotted floating in English Channel

  • Balloons were found in the English Channel leading to calls to ban mass releases
  • Marine Life campaigners took photos of 46 foil, latex and plastic floating items  
  • Sea creatures are often killed or injured  by plastic which ends up in the ocean 

Balloon releases, often held to commemorate the death of a loved one in Britain, are being condemned by campaigners after shocking new images have emerged of debris in the English Channel. 

Balloons, made from aluminium foil and latex, are a menace to sea life and choke and strangle creatures living on and off the UK coast.

The conservation charity Marine Life has found 46 balloons in the Channel since January, with 31 spotted on a single boat journey from Santander in Spain, to Southampton in the UK.

Adrian Sheppard, a volunteer for Marine Life, was on board a car transporter making the crossing and took the distressing photographs of the objects bobbing in the sea.

Campaigners are demanding mass balloon releases are outlawed after taking pictures of balloons in the English Channel 

The conservation charity Marine Life alone has found 46 balloons in the Channel since January

The 46-year-old from Farnham, Surrey, said: ‘What was so shocking about the journey was that I saw more balloons than marine mammals.

‘People release balloons for events all the time, but they never think about where they could end up.

‘The animals see the balloons and will mistake it for food and it is not their fault that they see it that way.’

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‘If people went out to sea and saw for themselves where the balloons and other rubbish ended up, they will quickly realise it is truly horrifying.’

Marine Life has operated on passenger ferries, freight ferries, car transporters, container ships and small boats since 1995 as they track wildlife and conserve British waters.

Foil balloons which are let off at commemoration events are often found in the waters where they pose a danger to marine life 

The conservation charity Marine Life alone has found 46 balloons in the Channel since January, with 31 spotted on a single journey from Santander, Spain

There are an estimated 270,000 tons of plastic floating on the surface of the ocean and according to a recent study at Plymouth University over 700 species are believed to be at risk of extinction because of the high quantity of waste.

A petition to ban balloon and sky lanterns releases was launched in March in an attempt to protect wildlife.

It received over 50,000 signatures, triggering a Government response.

In a statement it said: ‘We are aware of the ongoing concerns among livestock keepers, the wider agricultural community and others about the potential risks posed by balloons. We continue working with the agricultural industry to address those concerns.’

The Marine Conservation society (MCS) started a ‘Don’t Let Go’ campaign as they try to persuade more councils to ban the release of both balloons and sky lanterns on their land.

Campaign groups are calling for a ban on large-scale balloon releases – to save wildlife being killed by the waste. Experts say there has been a huge increase in litter left behind by the balloon releases which have scattered across the coast, endangering wildlife

As of March 2017, over 50 UK local authorities had agreed to implement a ban on balloon and lantern releases on their land. The MCS says it wants to see all intentional balloon releases stopped. 

Adrian Sheppard, a volunteer for Marine Life, was on board a car transporter making the crossing from the UK to Spain when he spotted 31 balloons 

Deflated balloon caught on a bird in a picture released by The Marine Conservation Trust to raise awareness over balloons and how they end up hurting animals 

A pink birthday balloon was also spotted among the bright coloured plastics floating in the English Channel amid calls for large releases to be outlawed

Balloons, made from aluminium foil and latex, are a menace to sea life – as are some lanterns set off by groups 

Large balloons were seen floating in the Channel which could have been released miles away from the water but have ended up risking the lives of sea creatures 

A danger to wildlife: Animals both on land and in the oceans frequently misidentify deflated balloons as sources of food

Birds often get entangled in balloon string. Flippers and fins of sea turtles, seals and dolphins can also become wrapped in string, causing infections, amputations and drowning 

Balloons have been described as ‘floating litter’ after entering water around the world and causing danger to sea creatures

As many as 31 balloons were spotted during one trip between the UK and Spain as calls for balloon releases to be banned heighten 

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