On Jan. 17 at 7:30 pm, NSU’s Oceanographic Campus will host the first screening of the feature-length documentary Rubber Jellyfish in the United States.
The film follows director and mom-to-be Carly Wilson on a personal journey as she meets other notable people involved in the fight to ban balloons and expose the marine danger behind the common party decoration.
Proceeds will benefit Balloons Blow, a non-profit organization, and NSU’s Marine Environmental Education Center or MEEC. In partnership with the MEEC, Balloons Blow and Free Our Seas and Beyond, this event plans to bring awareness to balloon pollution and how it affects the environment.
“With students studying at the Ocean Campus and many majors at NSU focused on the ocean and the environment, this film fits right in. It may even highlight a problem that some students aren’t aware of,” said Amy Hupp, program coordinator and carekeeper at the MEEC.
When a balloon is let go in remembrance of a loved one or escapes a party, it will blow away into sky, only to burst or deflate and return to Earth as a form of pollution.
“We find about 1,000 balloons every year. Balloons are a threat to animals on land and sea, wild and domestic. Since we are coastal we are concerned about the sea turtles as they often confuse balloons as jellyfish which is their main source of food,” said Danielle Vosburgh, co-founder of Balloons Below.
There are also cases of misinformation when it comes to selling this product to consumers.
“A lot of these balloon companies [represent their products] as biodegradable when they are actually not. These balloons will pop, float in our waterways and sea turtles think they are jellyfish,” said Manon Weise, executive director of Free Our Seas and Beyond.
With a ticket purchase, students will be able to enjoy light refreshments, snacks and catering provided by Bodhi’s Brew, a local vegan deli. Students can come early for tabling ocean conservations groups like Surfrider of Broward County, Saving Ocean Life, Sereia Films, Broward county parks and Sirenian International.
“When we have events, it’s important to have other people who share the same mission of saving the earth to be a a part of it. That way we can [interact] with more people so more people can learn,” said Weise.
“It’s a great way to bring awareness to the community. We are all working together to help the environment and this [tabling experience] gives us the opportunity to bring that information to folks who maybe aren’t aware of [the issues the environment is facing],” said Hupp.
There will also be a raffle available where students can win gift cards, a reusable bag painted by Together In Art, a MEEC basket, a Free Our Seas and Beyond Sustainability Basket or a Karen Bees Honey Basket.
Following the screening, the co-founder of Balloons Below, Danielle Vosburgh who is featured in the film, will facilitate a Q&A session for audience members interested in learning more about this issue.
“By starting Balloons Blow, I’ve found that people don’t really make the connection [between balloons and sea turtles]. But once they realize how easy it is to avoid balloon pollution, then they start to think about the other things in their lives they can avoid by choosing reusable alternatives,” said Vosburgh.
Organizers of this event encourage students and members of the community from all backgrounds to come participate in this event.
“It’s just not scientists and ocean conservationists, everyone should know what impact these balloons have on our planet,” said Wiese, “Maybe it will help change the way of how [people] celebrate or release balloons and see what effect it has on our sea life, oceans and beaches”.
Students interested in this event can visit www.eventbrite.com/e/rubber-jelly-fish-movie-tickets-53015587048 to purchase tickets online or at the door the day of the event for $10. Those interested in learning more about balloon pollution can visit balloonsbelow.org or contact the MEEC for more information.