Gazza the Northern Giant Petrel is in the care of Australian Seabird Rescue after ingesting balloon. Photo Contributed
Gazza the Northern Giant Petrel is in the care of Australian Seabird Rescue after ingesting balloon. Photo Contributed Contributed

Gazza the duck being helped after swallowing balloon

BALLOONS and marine wildlife do not go together - that's the message Australian Seabird Rescue have been spreading since 1995.

Many animals have come into the Ballina group's care over the years and either died or been rehabilitated after being injured from helium balloon ingesting.

Just recently two Northern Giant Petrels have been rescued.

Gazza came from Tallows Beach and was found on the beach hungry and exhausted, and on Saturday he regurgitated two large pieces of an orange balloon.

Again on Wednesday he regurgitated another piece, as well as a piece of fishing line. 

Northern Giant Petrels live on the open ocean, only coming to shore to breed or when they are unwell, the Ballina group said.

Other cases that have come through Australian Seabird Rescue include:

In 2005 a Northern Giant Petrel was rescued from a local beach. It had swallowed a Helium balloon and the string was hanging out of his mouth. When the rescuers pulled on the string, out came the balloon.

This bird was rehabilitated and released.

In 2011, a Hawksbill turtle was rescued from a beach in Kingscliff. It managed to excrete three different colours of balloon and then it died.

The turtle was found to have even more balloons in its stomach causing a blockage and eventually its death. Hawksbill turtles are critically endangered.

Pieces of balloon that Gazza the Northern Giant Petrel, who is now in the care of Australian Seabird Rescue, ingested. Photo Contributed
Pieces of balloon that Gazza the Northern Giant Petrel, who is now in the care of Australian Seabird Rescue, ingested. Photo Contributed Contributed

When a study was conducted by Australian Seabird Rescue in 2008 on turtle strandings in Northern NSW that were suffering from plastic ingestion, there were numerous samples of balloons and other types of plastic that were found inside many of the sea turtles.

"All of these cases of balloons affecting wildlife should be enough proof for anyone to realise how irresponsible and dangerous any use of balloons is in this day and age of information available to us," and Australian Seabird Rescue spokesperson said.

"It is frustrating when balloon companies keep quoting the same nonsense that the research conducted by balloon companies shows that wildlife are not affected when they clearly are!"

"These companies have never bothered to include the data collected from all around the world from different wildlife rescue groups.

"Even if a balloon is biodegradeable, it can still end up in the ocean and be eaten by marine creatures or birds before it biodegrades.

"So even after successfully lobbying the state government to ban the mass release of helium balloons in New South Wales up until 2000, when the legislation was brought into affect, we are still having the same problems with balloons and plastics in our environment." 

Australian Seabird Rescue are calling for a ban on the use, sale and release of balloons, due to the danger they cause to these animals.

In Lismore and Ballina Shires, soft plastics can be recycled. 

"We are lucky we live in an area where our soft plastics are recycled," the spokesperson said.

"We should all be reminded of how easy it is to recycle soft plastics and spread the word about how dangerous plastics are in the environment to our wildlife."



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