Wedding balloons found while surveying for right whales in Roseway Basin
As we were preparing to pull them out of the water, a right whale surfaced only a few hundred feet from us! I quickly radioed down to Moe, "Whale is up, 9 o'clock!!" "What kind?" she asked. I excitedly replied "Right whale!!!" We stayed in the area and happily worked 4 whales, never loosing track of the balloons.
As you can see in the photo at the top of this blog, the debris was a bunch of black and white plastic and foil balloons tied together with silver ribbon. The largest of all read "Mr. & Mrs.". I quickly scanned the horizon with my binoculars. My suspicion was right, no wedding party in sight. Where did they come from? I wondered (and still do). I always ask myself that question when I see bits of trash drifting about off shore. Once we had them on deck I punctured each one of them and put them in the trash. When I see stray balloons floating away my stomach cringes because I wonder where they'll end up. Maybe around the neck of a seal, in the stomach of a sea turtle, wrapped tightly around the beak of a bird, or maybe they'll wash up on the shore of your local sandy beach.
Balloons collected from Eastport Pirate Festival
My balloon story continues onto land. Last week was the annual Eastport/Lubec pirate invasion which includes a water balloon fight between the two sides. Automatically a few fellow right whale team members and I were picking up the colorful bits and pieces of broken balloons that littered the streets.
Sadly we could only watch as several water balloons missed their intended pirate targets and landed in the water alongside the harbor seals that play in the tidal currents just a few hundred feet off shore.
While writing this blog I began "Googling" words like balloons, animals and ocean. I found this article about marine debris quite interesting. It's incredible how much trash we pass each day we're surveying, and that's only the stuff that floats. I can't even imagine how much is under the surface.