Police investigate balloon burst in Miami Marina

Tuesday afternoon seemed like another uneventful day at a Coconut Grove marina as the wind gently rocked the yachts near the pier and music played in the distance.

Esteban Bruna, a yacht broker, said he was moving a client’s vessel around 4:15 p.m. at the Bayshore Landing Marina, located at 2550 S. Bayshore Dr., when the unthinkable happened. He said he saw several people popping dozens of decorative balloons at the bow of another boat, causing pieces to fall into the water.

As the pieces continued to fall, Bruna shouted to get the attention of the balloon poppers.

“My first reaction was to yell at them to try and end it, but that didn’t work,” he said. “I was ignored.”

It was then that Bruna began recording the environmental disaster with a cell phone.

In the video, at least two people can be seen rapidly popping dozens of decorative balloons at the bow of the ship. As they burst, pieces fell into the water. In a second video, even more coins can be seen floating near the boat as most of the balloons had already burst.

“There are probably 200 balloons,” Bruna can be heard saying on the video.

A few hours later, he uploaded the images to Instagram.

“I posted it on social media to raise awareness and see if we can have consequences that way,” he said.

Police are investigating after an Instagram video emerged online showing people popping dozens of balloons on a boat and dropping pieces into the water at a marina in Coconut Grove on Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Miami Maritime Group Broker Esteban Bruna

Authorities investigate massive balloon explosions

Detectives from the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Illegal Dumping Unit are investigating the incident with Miami police, county detective and spokesman Luis Sierra said in an email Wednesday.

Sierra described it as a “disturbing video depicting careless behavior that harms not only our environment, but also our marine life.”

The balloons can be mistaken for food by sea turtles and, if eaten, can lead to internal injury, starvation and death, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

“Protecting our environment and our marine life is a shared responsibility,” Sierra said.

Bruna said balloon poppers should be held accountable for their actions.

“I just want people to be responsible boaters,” he said. “There is only one ocean, we must preserve it as best we can.”

This story was originally published May 11, 2022 4:49 p.m.

Omar is a bilingual, bicultural journalist, covering breaking South Florida news for the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and a bachelor’s degree in education from the Universidad de Puerto Rico en Río Piedras.

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