Sea turtles often wind up mistaking plastic for food and choking on them.
Starting Sept. 1, balloons are illegal at Palm Beach County beachfront parks.
READ: Balloon releases banned in Palm Beach
“Sea turtles think they are jellyfish. Plastic in the ocean is a big issue. We want to protect native wild life and preserve the environment,” said Jennifer Cirillo, Palm Beach County assistant director of parks and recreation.
Signs have been posted at Loggerhead Park on A1A for about a year in preparation for the county ordinance to go in effect Sept. 1., said Cirillo.
“The public has had a positive response,” she said.
Loggerhead Marinelife Center officials welcome the balloon ban.
Medical staff at LMC often treat turtles injured from eating balloons and other plastic items.
When ingested, the remains can potentially damage sea turtles’ digestive systems, lead to starvation and even death.
“Ending the use of balloons at these beachfront parks will help protect sea turtles and other coastal wildlife, as well as provide clean, beautiful parks for locals and thousands of out-of-county guests who visit them every year,” said Tommy Cutt, LMC’s chief conservation officer.
The penalty is up to $500 and up to 60 days in jail faces a person who violates the balloon ban, according to county records.
Signs recently have been posted in 11 beachfront Palm Beach County parks between Boca Raton and Tequesta.
Leading up to Sept. 1, park officials will warn those visiting the parks who have balloons about the upcoming ordinance.
Sea turtles, dolphins, whales, fish and birds have been reported with balloons in their stomachs and ribbons and strings can lead to entanglement, injuries and even death, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Service.
There are two types of balloons in general use – latex and mylar.
Mylar balloons are made with nylon. They are not considered biodegradable.
Although latex balloons are considered bio-degradable, this will take anywhere from 6 months to 4 years to decompose. Latex balloons can be especially deadly as their burst remnants actually mimic the food of many creatures, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
READ: Banning plastic shopping bags is gaining support
Coral Gables on May 9 was the first in Florida to approve a plastic bag ban. City commissioners approved the prohibiting the use of single-use, carryout plastic bags by retailers in the city and at special events.
Violators in Coral Gables face a $50 to $500 fine.
Several exceptions are allowed, such as plastic bags that hold prescriptions, those used at veterinarians’ offices, those for yard waste and several more.
These are the Palm Beach County beachfront parks where the balloon ban will be enforced starting Sept. 1:
- Carlin Park, Jupiter
- DuBois Park, Jupiter
- Gulfstream Park, Gulfstream
- Juno Beach Park, Juno Beach
- Jupiter Beach Park, Jupiter
- Loggerhead Park, Juno Beach
- Ocean Cay Park, Jupiter
- Ocean Inlet Park, Ocean Ridge
- Ocean Reef Park, Riviera Beach
- Peanut Island Park, Riviera Beach
- South Inlet Park, Boca Raton