A vast number of advertising balloons as well as popular greeting balloons (Happy Birthday, Happy Valentine’s Day, etc.) are still washing ashore on Cumberland Island.
Besides cluttering up the beach, balloons are engulfed by sea turtles, sea birds, and fishes, often blocking the digestive tract and causing death. Some helium filled balloons actually rise so high they break, falling into the ocean, becoming shaped like a jellyfish, umbrella top with dangling rubber tentacles. We have found many birds and turtles with balloons blocking the digestive tract.
Advertising balloons from restaurants, radio stations, grocery stores – even non-profit organizations – have made it to the island. Also included in island beach garbage is refuse from ships such as cruise ship cocktail napkins and a balloon containing a message from an elementary school child.