… Is your sunscreen killing corals?

According to a recent article in the National Geographic, four common sunscreen components can activate dormant viruses in coral’s symbiotic algae, known as zooxanthellae, which live within the reef’s tissues. These sunblock chemicals stimulate viral replication until coral’s zooxanthallae explode, releasing viruses into the surrounding seawater, where they can infect neighboring coral reef systems. It is thought that about 4,000 to 6,000 metric tons of sunblock from swimmers wash off into the world’s oceans annually, and that up to 10% of coral reefs are threatened by sunscreen-induced bleaching.

Be careful when vacationing near the ocean, it is important to protect yourself from too much sun, but be wise in doing so. Below are some reef-safe options, but do your research, some companies claim to be reef-safe but are not!

▪   Badger Balm produces a few natural, water-resistant sunscreens and has been rated highest for safety and efficacy by the Environmental Working Group.

▪   Caribbean Solutions also offeres reef-safe, natural sunblock.

▪   Loving Naturals makes a zinc-based sunscreen with 100% natural ingredients.

▪   Reef Safe (made by Tropical Seas) claims to be completely safe for all marine life.

Of course, avoiding sunscreen altogether is best! Sit in the shade, wear a hat and use a UV rated rash guard when snorkeling!


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