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'Blow bubbles not balloons': Penguin dies after becoming entangled in plastic

WARNING - DISTRESSING IMAGES: A Victorian wildlife group has shared heartbreaking images of a dead penguin entangled in balloons and ribbon, as a warning the materials can kill.

The group, St Kilda Penguins, posted two images to Facebook on Friday of a penguin found near Dromana Pier, on the Mornington Peninsula, by resident Josie Jones.

The woman was collecting rubbish along the beach when she made the heartbreaking discovery of a dead penguin on the sand.

Pictured is a penguin which was found dead near Victoria's Dromana Pier, entangled in balloons and ribbon. Source: St Kilda Penguins via Josie Jones / Facebook
A penguin was found dead near Dromana Pier, entangled in balloons and ribbon. Source: St Kilda Penguins via Josie Jones / Facebook

Attached to the creature’s leg were balloons and ribbon that had became entangled.

“An entanglement such as this would impair the penguin’s swimming ability, resulting in starvation or drowning,” the group wrote on Facebook.

“Both the ribbon and balloons are to blame for this death. These were someone’s balloons. Was it worth it?”

St Kilda Penguins urged people not to blow balloons, as they can kill creatures like penguins if they become tangled.

“Please. We urge you. Blow bubbles not balloons,” they wrote.

‘We don’t need balloons’

Researcher at Earthcare St Kilda, Flossy Sperring, told Yahoo News Australia balloons have a larger environmental impact than people think.

“Balloons are a big problem for sea birds. They get tangled around their legs and they ingest them,” she said.

Ribbon and balloons entangled in the penguin's leg were blamed for the creature's death, found dead near Dromana Pier. Source: St Kilda Penguins via Josie Jones / Facebook
Entangled ribbon and balloons can prevent penguins from swimming and eating. Source: St Kilda Penguins via Josie Jones / Facebook

The researcher added that seals can also become trapped in the rubber, and it often gets stuck in the stomachs of sea turtles, too.

While some argued latex balloons are biodegradable and are better for the environment, they do not break down in water and are just as harmful to sea life as regular balloons, Ms Sperring warned.

Simply disposing of balloons in the rubbish wasn’t enough to prevent harm to sea life, as there are a lot of places waste can end up along the way to becoming landfill, she added.

For example, birds circulating at landfill areas can swoop down and carry waste to our waterways.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the balloons [pictured tangled in the penguin’s leg] were placed in the bin.”

She urged everyone to think twice about blowing balloons the next time they celebrate a special event, and instead consider a more environmentally-sound alternative.

“We don’t need them,” she said.

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