Wildlife

Party Balloons Are Killing All the Seabirds

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Forget about plastic straws: The deadliest ocean garbage for seabirds is balloons.

In a recent survey of over 1,700 dead seabirds, more than a quarter of the deaths were linked to eating plastic. Four in 10 of those deaths were caused by soft debris such as balloons (which are often made of plastic), even though it made up only 5 percent of the inedible trash in the birds’ stomachs.

Seabirds frequently snap up floating litter because it looks like food; once swallowed, it can obstruct birds’ guts and cause them to starve to death. If a seabird swallows a balloon, it’s 32 times more likely to die than if it had gulped down a piece of hard plastic, researchers reported in a new study.

With an estimated 280,000 tons (250,000 tonnes) of floating marine debris worldwide, about half of all seabird species are thought to ingest plastic on a daily basis, the study authors reported. Birds are especially likely to swallow dangerous balloons because they closely resemble squid, according to the study.

Opium-Addicted Parrots Are Terrorizing Poppy Farms in India

Poppy farmers in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India have reportedly run into some trouble while cultivating this season’s crops. In addition to inconsistent rainfall putting a damper on things, flocks of persistent parrots — presumed to be addicted to opium — are rampaging through the poppy farms, sometimes making 40 visits a day to get their fix.

“One poppy flower gives around 20 to 25 grams of opium. But a large group of parrots feed on these plants around 30 to 40 times a day,” one poppy cultivator said. “This affects the produce. These opium-addicted parrots are wreaking havoc.”

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