We Trashed Over A Hundred Turtle Killers Tuesday

Mylar and latex balloons are the real turtle killers

(Sept 23, 2021) … Tuesdays beach clean up was productive, we set a new record for Mylar Balloon catches. I hate saying that about trash but it was a good day to clean a beach. Much like surf fishing success stories, we hit it at the right time.
I drove on early around six in the morning. Set up to surf fish and watch the sun rise. The wind and water was pushing pretty good, chewing a drop off into the beach’s higher “edge”. Caught a couple puppy drum and decided to work my way up to Keybox and meet the crew.

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Sunrise on the Charles W Cullen bridge.

Watched the dozer clean up the Faithful Steward Crossing. Dug a guy in a brand new Ford Exploder out of the beach. He was to the frame, aired down to 22 psi. Problem is those low profile tires need to air down to around 16 psi at least. Drove him out of the hole he dug into airing him down to 14 psi. Much easier than pulling out a vehicle with your vehicle. Check your owners manuals gang, that little dial for “four wheel” drive, it has different settings. Turn off traction control, that will just get you stuck faster.

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Looking north towards Conquest Beach at the wide surf wash and onshore waves and wind pushing up debris.

While driving to the beach clean up I found a Mylar balloon and another and another and another. One balloon or a cluster, just laying on the beach, about every fifty yards. Most had come ashore that morning. The Mylar balloon blitz was happening.
I met the clean up crew and they headed out to clean from Keybox to Faithful Steward. I told them I think I got all the Mylar balloons but I bet more will be out there washing up. I wasn’t wrong.

Summer Arthurs found the motherload of Mylar balloon turtle killer clusters.

The volunteers found the same amount if not more balloons on their way to Faithful Steward. I filled a five gallon bucket with forety two Mylar balloons on my way to Keybox. Some in places I had just removed a Mylar balloon, not a half hour before. We even found a blue half barrel that was used to collect the trash. I’m adding that to the beach trailer for clean up days. I’ve needed Windex the past two weeks. I watched a brand new bottle wash up onto the beach. Score. That’s both awesome and sad.

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I counted 79 Mylar balloons, 27 latex balloons, 30 loose streamers. Those were detached from other balloons. Some balloons were a little too gnarly to display.

79 Mylar balloons, 27 latex balloons, 30 loose streamers

The straw ban was to create awareness, it got sidetracked by a turtle. The real turtle killers are released Mylar balloons and latex balloons. Livestock ingests them on occasion choking them to death.

Windex bottle that washed up,.

The new balloon release laws are for large releases. These Mylar balloons we found were from individuals and celebrations. Lot of Happy Birthday balloons. Banning large releases is a good start, now the individual releases need to be stopped. That will have to start with people being responsible and aware on their own first. Just need to take the balloon out of the equation completely. We literally use the same materials on gear to trick fish into biting lures. By mimicking aquatic life with lures, we can catch hungry fish. These balloons mimic sea life that is ingested by turtles and other marine critters. So they eat the balloons, and usually choke. The streamers are a problem, not just ingesting but entangling.

Fish On!
Rich King

Some of the latex balloons with streamers.

Balloons are “fun” for a hot minute, with a destructive possibility for years, even decades. These beach Mylar balloons will push into the dunes and bury only to pop up later. All of the paint comes off in the ocean too.
We found a balloon shaped like a peace dove with a message for a loved one in heaven.
Plant a tree for a memorial, with a garden you can add to each year. Do something cool for a memorial, instead of releasing a turtle killer. Trees last a long time, and you can visit it on the daily. Celebrate a birthday without a balloon. Stop letting your balloons go!

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