Gibraltar National Day balloons. Photo: travellersinkblog.com
Gibraltar National Day balloons. Photo: travellersinkblog.com

SYMBOL of national pride or threat to the environment?

That’s the question many are asking ahead of Gibraltar National Day, when 30,000 red and white balloons — one for each resident of the British territory — are set to fly over the crowd in Casemates Square.

The release of the balloons is a much beloved tradition dating back to the early years of National Day celebrations.

But in recent years, the custom has come under fire for its ecological implications, particularly for marine life.

The Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society (GONHS) is among the groups calling for a ban on the balloons.

In a press release, the GONHS emphasized the balloons’ impact on ocean animals, especially turtles, saying, “Once balloons have been eaten they can block digestive systems and cause animals to starve.”

Even though the balloons are made out of biodegradable material, the GONHS asserts they can take years to decay and in the meantime litter cities and fields.

However, the anti-balloonists seem to be in the minority, as the balloons inspire feelings of pride and solidarity across the Gibraltarian community.

“I think they have a lot of symbolic value,” said Jonathan Lutwyche, 15.

“I know they’re controversial now, but it’s something we always do. It’s just once a year and it means so much to Gibraltarians.”

Caitlin Quinn

About Caitlin Quinn

DO YOU HAVE NEWS FOR US at Spain’s most popular English newspaper - the Olive Press? Contact us now via email: newsdesk@theolivepress.es or call 951 273 575. To contact the newsdesk out of regular office hours please call +34 665 798 618.

1 COMMENT

  1. If spreading lumps of nasty animal-chokers around the landscape “means so much to the majority of Gibraltarians”, then that doesn’t say much for their mentality.
    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, release coloured homing-doves instead. That way lie benefits instead of negatives.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.