Victoria’s marine and coastal environments are home to over 12,000 plant and animal species. Much of this magnificent life is not found anywhere else in the world.

Our state’s marine environments include sponge gardens, rocky reefs, kelp forests, seagrass meadows, mangroves and saltmarsh.

Unfortunately, these unique ecosystems are under threat. Pollution in the marine environment has grown quickly in recent years.  

“Levels of plastic pollution in the marine environment have rapidly increased in recent years impacting all levels of the marine ecosystem with potentially devastating consequences.” 
State of the Marine and Coastal Environment 2021 Report

Balloons are one of the most lethal forms of litter to marine wildlife. The CSIRO has shown that they are particularly lethal when ingested by Australian seabirds. 

In 2017, Zoos Victoria and Phillip Island Nature Park established the When Balloons Fly, Seabirds Die campaign. It encourages the community to blow bubbles rather than use balloons at outdoor events.  

“There is clear, scientific evidence that balloons are the single deadliest litter item when ingested by seabirds. Balloons can be fun, but they don’t belong outdoors, that’s why Zoos Victoria encourages people to blow bubbles instead of balloons at outdoor events, as a wildlife-friendly alternative. If we can prevent even a single balloon from entering the marine environment, it could literally save a life.” 
Darcie Carruthers, Zoos Victoria Acting Senior Manager of Conservation Campaigns.

Since the campaign began, over 230,000 people, and 60 schools have pledged to blow bubbles instead of balloons outdoors. Further to this, hundreds of organisations, including businesses, councils, and community groups, have committed to stop using balloons outdoors.

In July 2021, releasing balloons into the environment became illegal in Victoria through a change in Victoria’s Environmental Protection Act 1970. This includes latex balloons, which are sometimes misleadingly labelled as biodegradable.  

You can read more about initiatives working to turn the tide on litter and pollution in the State of the Marine and Coastal Environment 2021 Report.