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Multicolored balloons flying to the sky. Jakkree Thampitakkull / Getty Images

We get it. Balloons are fun and make great decorations. But we hate to burst your bubble—balloons can be a big problem when they are deliberately released into the environment.

The litter is not only a blight on landscapes, waterways, trees and power lines, but balloons and balloon strings can entangle, choke or kill marine life and other animals. That's not to mention the wasteful use of helium, a non-renewable resource.

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Courtesy of Anna Du

For 12-year-old Anna Du a love of the ocean and marine animals inspired her to build a device that hunts for microplastics.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Norwegian zoologists have discovered some 30 plastic bags and other marine debris inside the stomach of a malnourished 20-foot Cuvier's beaked whale.

The whale was an adult male that weighed about 2 tons. Local authorities were forced to euthanize the distressed animal on Jan. 28 after repeatedly stranding itself off the shallow waters of Sotra, an island near Norway's southwestern coast.

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