Planning an event at a county beach?
    Leave the balloons behind; as of Sept. 1, they’re banned at 11 Palm Beach County-operated beachfront parks.
    “I think anytime we can limit the amount of plastics, including balloons, is a good thing,” said Leanne Welch, manager of the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton, which takes in and rehabilitates injured and sick sea turtles. “I applaud the county for taking this step.”
    The county implemented the ban in an effort to help sea turtles, which mistake the deflated popular party favors for jellyfish, their favorite meal.
    The balloons get stuck in the sea creatures — or streamers or string can wrap around body parts — causing digestive problems, starvation, strangulation and death.
    “In five days in June, our sea turtle conservation team collected 53 balloons that washed ashore on Boca Raton’s 5 miles of beaches,” Welch said. “It’s a real problem.”
    The county parks include Ocean Inlet Park in Ocean Ridge, South Inlet Park in Boca Raton and Gulfstream Park in Gulf Stream. The rule does not apply to municipal beachfront parks.
    Violators are subject to a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail.
— Henry Fitzgerald

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