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Wildlife and Other Sightings: Balloons

September 15, 2012 Posted by: BW – Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

Balloon - orange  Balloon - yellow

Balloon - blue  Balloon - mylar

Summer 2012
What are these balloons doing in Yosemite? These pictures were all taken at off-trail locations in the park wilderness, miles from any developed area. When helium filled balloons escape from parties or graduations, they rise quickly into the atmosphere, sometime reaching heights of five miles. At this point they either burst and fall to earth or get carried by the wind until they slowly deflate and sink. Either way, they can travel large distances, including into the backcountry of Yosemite. Latex balloons will ultimately biodegrade, but Mylar - or more correctly, metalized nylon - balloons, ribbons, and other plastic items will take hundreds of years to break down (and even then they won't decompose, only becoming microscopic pieces of plastic). The next time you are at a party, remember Yosemite and hang on tight to that balloon!  


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Did You Know?

Yosemite Museum

When it opened to the public on May 29, 1926, the Yosemite Museum became the first museum building in the national park system, and its educational objectives served as a model for parks nationwide. It still functions much as it was originally intended, and currently exhibits items which mainly reflect the Native occupation of Yosemite Valley and its surroundings. When in the park, you can visit with one of three cultural demonstrators who primarily staff the Museum.