If you are a journalist and interested in doing a story on the Rubber Jellyfish documentary, we would love to hear from you.  Please send an email as a first point of contact if you require an interview.

 

Brief synopsis:

There are seven sea turtle species on Planet Earth. Six are endangered.  Rubber Jellyfish is a documentary about the surprising effects of helium balloons on sea turtles, sea birds and many other species including our own. In this deeply personal story, a mum to be  meets key players fighting for and against the rights of the balloon industry, exploring the consequences of this most common symbol of childhood.

Quick Facts:

  • 6 of 7 sea turtle species worldwide are endangered according to the IUCN Red List
  • In a 2012 publication out of the University of Queensland, Balloons were identified as being disproportionately consumed by sea turtles based on commonality of balloons as litter on Queensland beaches.  In other words, the study found that sea turtles specifically target balloons.  They concluded this was due to their similarity in appearance to jellyfish which is a prey all sea turtles eat – click here for the scientific paper
  • When helium balloons are released, many burst into jellyfish-like shapes, high in the Earth’s atmosphere (see our trailer for a visual explanation)
  • In most parts of the world balloon release ceremonies are legal and growing in popularity as a way to memorialise lost loved ones
  • According to a spokesperson for Queensland, Australia’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP), helium balloons are not specifically prohibited in Queensland, nor is releasing them at special events such as funerals and memorials however (according to a spokesperson for the Department of Environement and Heritage Protection, “releasing these balloons into the environment without arranging ways of retrieving them following the release could constitute a littering offence under the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011 . . . (however) the department has to date not fined any person or organisation (for releasing balloons)”

Story ideas

“Helium balloons – harmless party decorations or dangerous ocean predators?”

“Biodegradable balloons – fact or fiction?”

“Why has the Queensland government not banned balloon release ceremonies when Queensland waters support all six endangered sea turtle species?”

“Pacific Northwest Native shaking things up with a documentary about balloon release ceremonies”

 

Photos:

Feel free to use any of these photos with or without the included captions.  Please do, however, credit the owners where indicated.

Washed up balloons

Photo courtesy of Larissa McCollin. Helium balloons that have burst into the characteristic jellyfish shape. All of these balloons were collected on the nesting beach for a population of critically endangered loggerhead sea turtles on the Sunshine Coast.

 

When helium balloons are ‘released’ either accidentally or as part of a ritual they travel all the way to the blackness of near space and burst into these jellyfish shapes.

 

 

Balloon release ceremonies have become a popular way to memorise people who have passed away

 

Photo courtesy Lauren Roman. An endangered grey-headed albatross that passed away after ingesting a red balloon in the characteristic jellyfish shape.

 

Photo courtesy of Blair Witherington. A green sea turtle in care after ingesting a balloon.

 

 

 

In Carly’s documentary, Rubber Jellyfish, she meets with people fighting for and against the rights of the balloon industry

Carly Wilson

Carly Wilson is creating a documentary about the surprising effects of helium balloons on sea turtle populations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bio for Carly, the film maker and presenter:

Carly Wilson was born in Canberra but grew up in Washington State on the East Coast of the USA.  She attended Olympic High School and the University of Washington.  She moved back to Australia in 2006 to pursue work with Australian wildlife.  She worked at the RSCPA Wildlife Hospital in Canberra for several years and then moved to Queensland and became a fauna spotter for several years, relocating wildlife from habitat loss sites for natural gas pipeline installations.

She became interested in film making while still in high school.  She became serious about about creating a documentary about balloon release ceremonies while completing a masters degree at the University of Queensland,

“It became clear to me that a lot of scientific studies are not publicised.  When I learned about what was going on with balloons and sea turtles, I was very concerned   I did a google search for information and found a lot of balloon industry propoganda claiming balloons were biodegradable.  The scientific literature told a different story, though. At this point I realised that instead of going into a phd program to potentially create another study that would not be publicised, I would rather just help people to learn about the important science that has already been completed”.

Carly is passionate about using documentary film making as a way to breathe life into science and make it understandable and relatable to a much greater pool of people.  She is also a contributing writer for 1 Million Women and Enzyme Arts Magazine and has a website, Facebook page, Instagram account, and Twitter feed.  She lives on Australia’s Gold Coast with her partner Sam and daughter Alice.