(Be aware that this PSA applies to all bodies of water, even man made pools, as the chemicals will still be carried into the ocean.)
It’s well known fact that the ocean is in critical danger from pollution. We are in the middle of a mass extinction event that is being severely advanced by human activity. The ocean drives the Earth’s life and weather. If it fails, we are doomed.
As of today, over 90% of the Great Barrier Reef is dead.
What can we possibly do to help?
Switch to a reef safe sunscreen. Every little thing you do to take the pressure off of reefs will help in their recovery and preservation.
Sunscreen isn’t reef safe? Huh?
The main ingredient in a vast majority of sunscreen brands is something called oxybenzone along with a slew of other chemicals. Oxybenzone and the like is toxic to coral and damaging to fish and crustaceans. Even some “natural” ingredients such as mineral oil are deadly, as it biodegrades very slowly and is harmful to all sea life. It causes the corals to bleach themselves, a process in which the symbiotic algae is ejected from the coral. Coral can sometimes survive a bleaching event but with other pollutants and high heat, they almost never do.
That’s awful! But if it’s in all sunscreen, how can I possibly be safe in the sun and save the reefs?
That’s easy! Start using a “reef safe” sunscreen! These sunscreens contain only zinc or titanium oxide as the active ingredient, a powerful UVB and UVA blocker that is completely reef safe! It’s also great for those with sensitive skin.
Awesome! Where can I find reef safe sunscreen?
You can find reef safe sunscreen in dive shops and most stores that carry sunscreen. Just make sure the only active ingredients are “zinc oxide” or “titanium oxide”. Avoid oxybenzone and mineral oil at all cost! Online shops such as amazon also have dozens of excellent reef safe sunscreens.
Do you have any recommendations?
There are dozens of reef safe brands, so it’s up to you to decide depending on price and scent/unscented. I personally like Stream2Sea, Badger, Biodegradable Reef Safe by Tropical Seas, and Coral Safe.
Is tanning oil okay?
Unfortunately not! Tanning oil causes the same kind of oil damage as an oil spill. In small doses it’s not going to do much but keep in mind that millions if not billions of beach-goers deposit tanning oil into the ocean whenever they swim. It’s best to wash off any tanning oil before entering the ocean to swim. Hit the showers!
Why should I even care that my sunscreen isn’t reef safe?
One earth, one ocean. If the oceans fail, if the biodiversity plummets, if the reefs die, the water turns to toxic sludge, then we are all doomed. We lose a source of food. We lose a source of capital. We lose ways of life. We lose cultures. We will lose the Earth. If the oceans go, humanity will soon follow.
Don’t let the next generation grow up with stories of “….back when the reefs still existed”
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