In a 2012 study from the University of Queensland, Balloons were identified as being disproportionately consumed by sea turtles based on commonality of balloons as litter on Queensland beaches. In other words, the study found that sea turtles specifically target balloons. In fact, of all rubber items found inside of deceased sea turtles, 78% were balloons or balloon fragments. They concluded that sea turtles were consuming balloons to such a large degree due to their similarity in appearance to jellyfish which is a prey all sea turtles eat.
Ingestion of balloons and plastic can cause ‘float syndrome’ in sea turtles – a painful and often lethal condition where gasses form in the digestive tract around the consumed garbage. This causes the animal to float, making them vulnerable to boat strike, shark predation, accumulation of barnacles, sunburn, and unable to dive down for food or protection. Many ultimately die a slow death by starvation.
“Biodegradable” balloons is just a marketing gimmick to get people to buy the product. Natural latex may be biodegradable, but after adding chemicals, plasticizers and artificial dyes, how natural could it be? It may degrade after several years, but it’s surely not “biodegradable.”
Another claim is that so-called “biodegradable” latex balloons take the same amount of time to decompose as an oak leaf does. This is very misleading; oak leaves are very durable and can take four years to decompose! That means the balloons have plenty of time to injure or kill.