Protect our coral reefs by choosing the right sunscreen

     Plastic, as many of us know, is one of the main contributors of pollution to our beaches and marine life, but what are some of the underlying factors that also contribute to oceanic pollution?

     Believe it or not, sunscreen holds harmful chemicals that can effect marine life in a negative way. Individuals can greatly reduce the risk of pollution to our marine ecosystem simply by wearing eco-friendly sunscreen.

Many sunscreens on the market emit harmful chemicals in the water when you are swimming, and damage coral reef systems. Common chemicals include, but are not limited to oxybenzone, octinoxate, and octocrylene. These chemicals can damage developing coral, and increase coral bleaching. Coral bleaching occurs when the coral is stressed due to a change in the environment (in this case exposure to the aforementioned chemicals). According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, the symbiotic relationship between coral and algae (coral feeds on algae) gets jeopardized when coral is under stress and bleaching occurs. Algae then leaves the stressed coral, which is its main source of food, leaving the plant pale and susceptible to disease. (NOAA.)

     Before you go to purchase your next bottle of sunscreen, do a little research to see which products contain oxybenzone, octocrylene, and octinoxate. Companies such as ‘Loving Naturals’, ‘Raw Elements’, and ‘All Good’ provide natural sunscreens that are safe to wear around coral reef systems. These particular brands are widely available. Learn to protect your body and the ocean's delicate coral, one bottle of sunscreen at a time.