Our Ocean’s coral reefs are under threat from many causes. Ocean acidification, climate change and ocean warming are the biggest and these issues need to be tackled at an international level. But there are also serious threats to coral reefs that individuals can help to resolve and one of these is the simple choice of what sunscreen lotion to use. Blue Ocean has brought a variety of products to you that do no harm to our reefs, see: More on Sunscreens, Especially Those To Avoid and use a sunscreen that won’t kill coral reefs.
14,000 tons of the Slimey Stuff
Did you know that an estimated 14,000 tons of sunscreen goes into our oceans each year, that’s a lot of “slimed” shoulders and tummies, and the chemicals contained in many of these products are injurious to coral. The greatest damage is where you might expect it, Hawaii and the Caribbean, areas with high levels of recreational use. In fact, one study demonstrated that in 2015 an “average of 412 pounds of sunscreen was deposited DAILY on the reef at Hanauma Bay, a popular snorkeling destination in Oahu that draws and average of 2,600 swimmers each day.” That statistic is unbelievable and needs to be repeated an “average of 412 pounds of sunscreen was deposited DAILY on the reef.” (photo – Kris Carr)
The Aloha State bids Bonvoyage to oxybenzone
But Hawaii, is fighting back. Even though the “Aloha State” is known for being nice to tourists they have just sent a shot across the bow or buttock that is (whichever is covered in sunscreen).
On May 1st, just in time for the summer onslaught, Hawaii became the first U.S. state to ban the sale of sunscreens containing the harmful chemicals, oxybenzone and octinoxate. Scientists have known for some time that these chemicals have a negative impact on the aquatic organisms that maintain healthy coral reefs. The result is viral infections and a bleaching of hard corals similar to what occurs with extreme ocean warming events. (photo – Sunbathincosmos magazine)
Unfortunately, the new rules do not go into effect until January 1st, 2021, giving retailers plenty of time to unload their stockpiles onto unwary tourists that will, in turn unload it into the ocean. The new legislation was opposed, of course, by the manufacturers of traditional sunscreens, however many reef-safe alternatives are readily available such as TropicSport and Raw Elements.
“Everyone has come together to support this legislation, from local nurses and doctors, to resorts and airlines, as well as the entrepreneurial spirit of new sunscreen companies to supply reef-safer products.” Said Craig Downs of the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory.
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
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