Valentine's Day

Love is in the Air, and That's a Problem in the Waters Off SoCal

A Feb. 17 trip by staff from the Pacific Marine Mammal Center collected about 20 balloons in a few hours. It's a common sight in the weeks after Valentine's Day


Boaters have been fishing balloons out of the ocean off Southern California since Valentine's Day, and some say it's a predictable problem, according to a report.

"It was crazy. Everywhere I looked," Rich German told the Orange County Register.

German who rode his personal watercraft several miles off Laguna Beach after Valentine's Day and picked up 31 balloons in a few hours. He started a petition a few years ago in an effort to get his hometown to ban the balloons.

Erik Combs, captain on Long Beach-based Harbor Breeze Cruises, told a similar story.

"Balloons have been everywhere," he told the newspaper, adding he expects more balloons after St. Patrick's Day, Father's Day, Mother's Day and graduations. "If we tried to pick up every balloon, it would take all day long."

Deanna Davenport, of Orange, said she wanted to show visitors the coastal beauty but instead found the debris floating off Newport Beach and decided to start cleaning it up.


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"You just expect to see clean water and it was just so disturbing to see so much litter out there with the balloons," she said.

A Feb. 17 trip by staff from the Pacific Marine Mammal Center collected about 20 balloons in a few hours, said spokeswoman Krysta Higuchi.

"It's not only dangerous for marine mammals, but for marine birds and the whole ecosystem in general," she said

California has a law regarding Mylar balloons that was strengthened two years ago, requiring sellers to attach a weight of some type to keep the balloons anchored. The balloons can cause outages when they contact electrical power lines.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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