Balloon Doom

SOS to all my readers, tomorrow is your chance for rescue. Vulnerable life depends on YOU. Go, or make a call:

If you walk our Long Island beaches, you’ve seen them, balloon nooses, just waiting for the neck or leg of a gull, tern, or sandpiper:

Sure, it might feel exhilarating to celebrate a birthday, graduation or anniversary, with a balloon release, but it could be ultimately fatal for our feathered friends and marine life. Not much of culmination of joy, is it? But we can change that.


Over the summer, on Fire Island, my daughter, and her family came upon a Common Tern, a threatened species, all tied up in knots, literally! The trembling bird had a celebratory balloon ribbon around its neck which was becoming tighter by the moment.

My granddaughter was able to capture the helpless creature and the family tried to release it from its ribbon python grip.

But try as they did, as hard as they could to loosen the ribbon, it kept squeezing tighter. They had no knife to cut the ribbon and they thought they’d soon have a dead bird.

tern IMG_0656.jpg

But Park Rangers happened along…with a knife:

IMG_0666.jpeg They were able to cut the ribbon on the wriggling bird without cutting him. The tern was soon released and flew apparently unharmed, at least physically, back to the wet and (not-so) wild.


But why did this vulnerable treasure have to be so tangled up in ribbon? When companies say their balloons are biodegradable, that’s no excuse to toss them skyward. Why, at this point of environmental enlightenment, are people still releasing balloon trash into the sky? It’s just sky litter that becomes beach and sea trash.


Fortunately, our sea and shore life have guardians at work. Among them are the troops of the South Shore Audubon Society.

Tomorrow representatives from SS Audubon will speak before the Town of Hempstead, NY Board meeting about all the balloons and ribbons on our local beaches.

George Povall of All Our Energy and Vice President and Co-Chair of South Shore Audubon Society will speak on the trash that threatens birds and marine life who ingest them or become entangled in their cords. The representatives will ask the board to support a ban on the intentional release of balloons in the TOH and will use as a model for the plan, the City of Long Beach.

Yes, the City of Long Beach is leading the way on this issue.

Edit re: late info to me: tomorrow’s town board meeting is just to call the public hearing; the actual public hearing will be (Newest date: Nov. 12, 2019) when all public comments will be heard.  

The TOH website says “Residents unable to attend meetings of the Hempstead Town Board are welcome to express their views in writing to the supervisor https://hempsteadny.gov/supervisor or any council member https://hempsteadny.gov/council-members.
Each maintains an office in Hempstead Town Hall, located at One Washington Street, Hempstead, New York.” Supervisor Laura Gillen’s no. is 516-812-3260. Her email is lgillen@tohmail.org lgillen@tohmail.org.



image Balloonsblow.org

You can personally help:

If you want to give your tiny tots a really heartfelt birthday gift, let them poke a hole in those balloons when you’re done with them and toss them in the garbage.

Give the gift of example. Tell the tot, “You just saved a bird .”


Be well,


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