Pat Shingleton: "Balloon Deaths..."
A correction to Monday's column and winds. Our prevailing winds during the Summer are southeast, westerly in the Fall and west-northwest in the Winter months. The U.S. Antarctic Program launches between 1,300 and 9,000 research balloons each year. They provide information for safe aircraft operations, atmospheric contaminants and observations. Made from polyethylene or neopene, experts believe the balloons harm animals by ingestion or entrapment. Previous whale deaths have occurred from the ingestion of plastic bags. Migrating blue whales once had a population of 230,000 and is now estimated between 1,000 to 10,000. To remedy balloon impacts, a biodegradable balloon material is being tested, balloon launch reductions and remote sensing.