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Balloons, plastic ribbons form deadly litter on Virginia’s beaches

Latex balloons, foil balloons and plastic ribbons are deadly forms of litter, and they are a top source of debris found on Virginia’s remote beaches, according to a new report by Clean Virginia Waterways of Longwood University.

Litter was surveyed on Virginia’s barrier islands, Fisherman Island National Wildlife Refuge, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and other beaches between 2013 and 2020 revealing that balloon-related litter is often the number-one most frequently found type of debris.

“Balloons and plastic ribbons are among the deadliest types of ocean trash to all kinds of wildlife including sea turtles and birds,” said Christina Trapani, a researcher who conducted more than 250 surveys that documented the balloon-related litter on Virginia’s beaches. “While balloons can be found littered anywhere, our research shows that they accumulate in coastal environments between the high tide line and the dune vegetation, which is critical habitat for nesting shorebirds, sea turtl...

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