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Balloon – a momentary joy or a dozen years problem?

28 April 2020, Moscow , Russia

A balloon was washed up in the Pacific water area of the Kronotsky Reserve (Kamchatka region, Russian Far East). Exactly in the area where habits various species of sea animals and birds, including rare. Bright and harmless, at first glance, the balloon is a real threat to the fauna.   

Its appearance in the reserve was another confirmation that some modern traditions harm the wildlife and can lead to the animal deaths. Colorful objects attract animals and birds, which perceive these objects as a kind of food (like salmon caviar).

The formation of marine debris is one of the most pressing problems for special protected areas that border water bodies. For marine mammals are dangerous both separately floating objects from sea vessels (ropes, buoys, plastic, pieces of fishing nets) and accumulations of household garbage, left on the beach after the picnics.

In order to draw public attention to the issue of fighting the dominance of garbage, one of the events in the framework of the 85th anniversary of the Kronotsky Reserve was a volunteer campaign with the participation of Reserve`s employees and the local population. More than 150 people gathered on the shore of the Bay. Thanks to the enthusiasm and concern of adults and children, the coastline of the Bay was cleared of debris.

The campaign participants were divided into teams. Each team task was to collect as much garbage as possible and divide it into categories. So the organizers wanted to draw attention to the urgent need to implement the practice of separate garbage collection in Kamchatka. Such campaigns are especially important in the spring and summer period, when the number of social events with the use of festive attributes, including balloons, increases sharply.

“We found a balloon with a ribbon that got tangled in seaweed while patrolling the coast of the Bay. There are a lot of foxes on the coast and such a colorful object can attract its attention. Foxes are curious and try to eat everything. They could have swallowed the balloon, become entangled in the synthetic tape, and died. In addition, the coastal waters of the Kronotsky Bay is a habitat for rare sea otters, gray and humpback whales, white – shouldered eagles, seals, gulls and other sea birds” said Ilya Kudryashov, District inspector of the Kronotsky Reserve.

There are many photos in the Internet that can prove that animals are injured and killed by balloons.

In 2018, the management of the Kronotsky Reserve, together with colleagues from special protected areas in the Russian Far East took the initiative to ban the launch of balloons filled with helium during holidays and public actions. The attributes of the holiday can cover vast distances and do not decompose for decades.

This is a reason for people to be aware and give up momentary joy in favor of the life of the inhabitants of protected areas.

In the Kamchatka region a number of projects are being prepared to clean up the protected coast from hazardous waste, plastic and nets in particular.

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