Are chemical sun creams damaging Coral Reefs?
Recently there has been a great deal of media hype around the link between chemical sun creams and severe damage to coral reefs. You may have seen that Hawaii has just banned chemical sun creams containing Oxybenzone and Octinoxate, but what many people still ask is…
Are chemical sunscreens and sun creams really that damaging to the coral reefs?
Like most things the answer is not a simple one, but what you should know as a diver is that Oxybenzone and other chemical active ingredients used in nearly all chemical based sun creams, contribute to Coral death and exacerbate the bleaching effect caused by increased water temperatures.
What you might not know is that in the last 30 years nearly 70% of the world’s coral reefs (the largest eco system on this planet) have been destroyed. Thanks to a combined effort from badly managed tourist numbers due to the popularity rise of scuba diving and snorkeling in recent years, extensive climate change which has heated the Oceans to boiling point and the toxic build up of Reef Killing chemicals in the eco-system we have greatly improved the efficiency and devastation that is coral bleaching.
In another 30 years time we may have no Corals left at all, we truly need to do something now to change that future and one of the best things you can do right now as in this very minute, is to switch to a 100% natural reef safe sun cream or sunscreen.
Tell Me More About Oxybenzone!
Ozybenzone and Octinoxate are chemicals used in sun creams to provide protection from the sun. Sadly what know one knew until recently is that Ozybenzone and Octinoxate also have a nasty habit of altering the DNA of corals which prevents them from re-producing correctly causing them to loose nutrients, bleach and die en-masse.
So not only do Ozybenzone, Octinoxate and other active chemical ingredients contribute to coral bleaching when the water temperature is too high they also cause a high mortality rate in young corals thanks to the damage they do to the corals DNA structure. Young Corals exposed to Oxybenzone are likely to never actually recover, even after the water temperatures return to normal. So it is a massive double whammy for corals when divers covered in toxic sunscreen visit our already super fragile Coral Reefs and swim about.
It is also not just corals that these chemicals affect; it also causes genetic damage to other marine life, neurological damage and reproductive damage. Because these chemicals stop the reproductive process in marine life exposed to it, any damage done to the reef through other ways mean the corals and fish will simply not come back because they can’t produce healthy offspring.
Lots of things kill coral reefs but we know that Oxybenzone stops it from ever coming back! Craig Downs, Forensic Ecotoxologist
Help Us Save Coral Reefs From Extinction
An estimated 14,000 tons of chemical sun cream and sunscreen wash into the Oceans every year and we know now this has a huge detrimental effect on our coral reefs. All natural reef safe sun creams have an active ingredient of Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide, which are both natural minerals. These minerals do not cause harmful effects in our Oceans and cause no damage to Coral Reefs or marine life.
Zinc Oxide is also the potentially safer chemical for you as a human, it also has a slight benefit over Titanium Dioxide in that it has better broad spectrum protection meaning it will protect you against UVB rays (sun burn), and also protect you against harmful skin and DNA damaging UVA rays. This is the number 1 mineral to use and should be the ingredient you look for in your sun cream.
Aussie Divers have long understood the importance of keeping our underwater world free from harm, we want to see a change in behavior to try and eliminate some of the damage done to the reefs, that’s why we wrote this article.
The other thing we have done recently is buy a plenty of Reef Repair 100% natural sun cream, we are stocked up on Reef safe sunscreen in our shop and it comes highly recommended by divers all over the world.
Make the change to reef safe sun creams & sun care products and help save the worlds coral reefs, simple as that.
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