Late on Friday afternoon, Josie Jones stumbled across a heartbreaking sight while walking along the beach.
The photos she took were posted by St Kilda Penguins Facebook page, and have been shared over 900 times.
“This penguin was found near Dromana Pier by a resident collecting rubbish along the beach,” the caption read.
“4 balloons are attached with string that became entangled around the penguin’s leg. An entanglement such as this would impair the penguins swimming ability, resulting in starvation or drowning.”
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The local wildlife group left nothing to the imagination, detailing exactly how the poor creature would’ve died and who is to blame for habitat pollution.
“Both the ribbon and balloons are to blame for this death. These were someone’s balloons. Was it worth it? Please. We urge you. Blow bubbles not balloons,” they urged.
Social media users were overwhelmed by the images, flooding the post with comments about how they can do their part.
“I won’t use balloons anymore,” shared one user.
Another added, “Humans are so bloody selfish we should think about what impact we have on the environment and animals.”
One commenter took it even further: “I have taken screenshots of this to show at a funeral service I’m going to next Tuesday, where I know they will definitely be passing balloons out to let go,” she wrote.
“I’m hoping to stop a few from doing it. I just know I’m going to have quite a few angry people to deal with, but if it saves one life …”
St Kilda Penguins’ website aims to educate locals and tourists, explaining exactly how the creatures collect the litter discarded by careless beach users.
“Our little penguins like to bring rubbish into their nests in an attempt to keep their chicks warm,” their website states. “Unfortunately, rubbish does not provide as much insulation as natural flora found on the breakwater.”
Visitors are welcome to donate or volunteer but most importantly, the group urges everyone to “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.”