First, the balloon - I placed it in a nearby trash can where two other balloons were captive. Three balloons! I run this beach often and find drinking straws, bottle caps, cigarette butts, but never three balloons in such close proximity.
Ahhh, Valentines Day!!
Four days ago these balloons served as gifts of love and compassion, their recipients silently attached dreams and let go - watching the balloon float away, praying the dream would find its reality. However, the balloon floats a few miles above ground, begins to deflate, gravity does the rest - and in the end only finds my wet feet.
Unfortunately, the three balloons turned to 10 then to 16 - it was amazing, I was hunting!! My heart raced, my eyes scanned for more and more plastic balloons and my legs hastened to chase them down and scoop them off the beach. I ended up with 39 in total within 250 yards of the Santa Monica/Venice shoreline. I gathered my last clump of about 23 and marveled at the assortment: red ones printed with "I love you," an orange one with "Happy Birthday," a clear one with red writing, "Be Mine." I then realized this grouping of puffed-up plastics was not the "killed," but the "killers." Balloons, along with other plastics, strangle seabirds and sea lions, get eaten by whales and dolphins, eventually degrade and threaten our food supply. Indeed, cupid's arrow signifies so much more now.
I had to stop and catch my breath after shoving the last 23 in the trash can, before turning around and heading back to where I started, and then home. Almost dark, would I stumble upon any newly washed ashore balloons? Fortunately, no more - but just there, what is that in the waves? sloshing back and forth...a freshly deceased Common dolphin. What an unfortunate, yet invigorating evening - I have hunted both balloon and dolphin. In ankle high water, the dolphin attempts to find some solid ground. But only after alerted lifeguards pull her out of the water is she resting - her dorsal fin covered with the same sand that hides my toes. She will be picked up in the morning by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles to be autopsied. The lifeguards mentioned that they rarely do this, but I spoke with the Marine Mammal Center and unfortunately several dolphins have been pulled in the last few weeks.
But as the dolphin traveled away from me, I recollected the 39 balloons that I tracked - and wondered at a coincidence? Funny how we watch Whale Wars and the Cove and condemn the Japanese for hunting whale and dolphin with harpoon, yet each day we continue our Gulpable lifestyle of disposable plastics and toxic chemicals, we all hunt them the same with our disconnected waste, our pollutants, our greed - even our compassion, on this post-Valentines day.