Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s conservation initiative to save sea turtles, clean up beaches
Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s latest conservation project is reaching new lengths in southeastern Florida. Now, various cities and towns in Martin, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties are set to apply the non-profit’s Balloon Ban to a variety of places, including town beaches, parks and other community locations in an effort to reduce marine debris.
After LMC staff documented hundreds of deflated balloons on local beaches and treated many turtles who had ingested marine debris, they developed the Balloon Ban project last April to raise awareness about balloons’ impact on local wildlife. Balloons are often released purposefully or accidentally and often end up in the ocean, littering the place thousands of marine animals – like the sea turtle – call home. The deflated balloons resemble jellyfish, a common prey item for sea turtle species.
By partnering with municipalities across approximately 130 miles of South Florida coastline, the ban helps to proactively reduce marine debris in some of the most densely-nested sea turtle nesting habitat in the country. Sample ordinances, signage and educational materials are all provided free of cost to participating towns.
The first municipality to ban balloons was Palm Beach County, which used Juno Beach’s Loggerhead Park as a one-year trial. After receiving positive feedback from community members, LMC staff decided to expand the project area.
“Our hope is that the Balloon Ban will help people realize just how much of an effect pollution has on the ocean,” said Tommy Cutt, LMC’s chief conservation officer. “The message really hits home when people see a sea turtle being treated for accidentally ingesting a balloon. Fortunately, we have a viable solution. People can make a difference by recognizing and implementing the ban to make an impact in the community.”
Other participating municipalities include:
- Dania Beach
- Juno Beach
- Lake Worth
- Hallandale Beach
- Hillsboro Beach
- Miami Lakes
- South Palm Beach
- Martin County
- Miami-Dade County
Cities, towns or counties interested in partnering with LMC to prohibit balloons in designated locations may contact Tommy Cutt at (561) 627-8280 ext. 122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.