Save the Manatee Club warns public not to use glitter-filled floatation devices

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Glitter pollution from flotation devices has been found in Blue Spring State Park. By Bonnie Philp of the Florida Park Service.

Environmental advocates are asking people not to use glitter-filled floatation devices because of their potential to harm wildlife.

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Save the Manatee Club has recently learned of “quite a few instances” where glitter tubes have burst and sent plastic pollution into Florida waterways. 

Cora Berchem, who is a manatee research associate for the national nonprofit, said a new line of glitter tubes seem to be more flimsy than other flotation devices. The tubes are meant to be used in pools and not in springs or open waterways.

But Berchem said another staff member who volunteers at Blue Spring State Park, has noticed glitter and pieces of plastic in the park’s waters. Although, Berchem said the tubes are likely posing problems elsewhere.

“I don’t think it’s a local issue to one of our Florida state parks or springs,” Berchem said. “I think it’s a really widespread issue.” 

The park, which is north of Orlando, is home to a variety of birds and fish, in addition to manatees. Berchem said if the animals ingest plastic, they can get sick or even die. 

Management at Blue Spring State Park now has a sign at the entrance that says the glitter-filled flotation devices aren’t allowed in the park. Berchem said staff are also approaching people if they notice the tubes are being brought in or used. 

The public has been “very receptive” to Save the Manatee Club’s message, Berchem said. Oftentimes, she said people aren’t aware the tubes can burst.

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