The Cork Association for Autism has changed its plans to release gas-filled balloons as part of its annual ‘Blue Balloon and Fun Walk’ amid fears of potential risks to the environment.
The environmental lobby group Friends of the Irish Environment called on the Cork Association for Autism to amend its planned balloon release, ahead of its event this Sunday.
Friends of the Irish Environment director Tony Lowes said that if the public knew how hazardous balloons are to the environment they would never allow them to be released.
“The [balloon] fragments can become lethal marine debris, a hazard for sea turtles, dolphins, whales, fish, and seabirds who mistake them for jellyfish or other natural prey,” he said.
“All seven species of marine turtles are near extinction and many turtles of two species in particular, the Loggerhead and Leatherback turtle, have been found with balloons in their intestines.
“The string on balloons can also entangle and trap animals.
“Not only can entanglement cause death, but added to other plastic fragments, animals can feel full and actually starve to death from not eating.”
Having received the request from Friends of the Irish Environment, event organiser Carol Walsh said the group will now cancel the planned balloon release at the finish line and will instead ask everybody who takes part in the Blue Balloon Fun Run & Walk to bring their balloons home instead.
“They will still get to fly their balloons for Autism down the old railway line and back along the water as participants tie their balloons to their wrists, which always makes for a spectacular sight,” she said.
“We look forward to another great event this year which raises essential funds for our services.”
The fun walk is due to take place in Blackrock, Cork, on Sunday September 11 at 11am. Participants are being encouraged to register online at www.corkautism.ie to book their place.
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