Reincarnated balloons recently washed up in Safety Bay.

Beachgoers along a section of coastline south of Perth have been spending almost a month collecting what looks like a new species of jellyfish.

Fremantle resident Lisa Hills said a section of beach in Rockingham had been strewn with the ‘rubber jellyfish’.

But while the colourful creatures appear similar to small jellyfish, especially in water and to unsuspecting marine life, they’re actually rubbish: the remnants of helium and rubber balloons that have either been blown out along the coastline or washed up by the waves.

What Mrs Hills, who founded Boycott Balloons Fremantle five years ago, can’t believe is that releasing balloons and letting them become rubbish dumped on land or in waterways isn’t considered littering under the law.

There’s nothing in the Litter Act that mentions balloons or releasing them.

Mrs Hills presented a petition with about 2500 signatures to Labor Upper House MP Pierre Yang asking for the Act to be amended to make the deliberate release of helium balloons an illegal action and punishable by an on-the-spot fine.

The petition will be tabled in the Legislative Council on Thursday morning.

This action by Boycott Balloons Fremantle follows on from a successful campaign which has seen the Town of Cottesloe in 2015 agree to ban the mass release of helium balloons over concerns about their environmental impact.

The City of Fremantle is close to enacting the same bylaw which means anyone found to be intentionally releasing balloons will be fined.

Rockingham Council last week passed a policy to stop the release of helium balloons on local government land and the use and sale of them at council events.

The City of Stirling has placed stickers on the ground in public places warning people of the dangers of releasing balloons outside.

Mrs Hills said several other WA councils had policies in place but did not enforce a fine, which is why an amendment to the statewide legislation was well overdue.

“I can’t believe releasing helium balloons is not considered littering but it’s because the balloon disappears that no one really thinks about it,” she said.

“Releasing balloons is an out-of-date tradition and WA has an out-of-date littering act, 40 years old, that needs amending.

“It’s an out-of-sight out-of-mind attitude people have and they need to stop and think about the consequences before releasing a balloon.

More specimens collected from Safety Bay.
More specimens collected from Safety Bay.

“A lot of people are not aware that when the helium balloons get released and go up in the air, they freeze because of the temperature and pop, they shred and that’s what makes them look like jellyfish.”

Mrs Hills said the the main concern was that the coastline is a very active habitat for wildlife, with Penguin Island not far away.

“Studies have shown it’s the squid-eating birds that are ingesting balloons so our concern is especially for the penguins,” she said.

“Animals don’t need to die, and whether animals die or not, it’s still littering.”

Article Source