The Great Barrier Reef is a natural wonder that many people around the world want to see from up close. Scuba divers and snorkelers swim near the thousands of species of fish that live on the reef, which is their home.
But the marine ecosystem is fragile, and with the increasing temperature, pollution and chemicals that get into the ocean are killing the reefs. And tourists also damage the corals with the toxins in their skin.
The chemicals in the sunscreen on our bodies can see into the water when we swim. They are absorbed into corals and they grow slower and can no longer reproduce. That means, if we are going to swim it’s better we use a different means of protection against sunburns.
Losing coral reefs means the marine ecosystem will be harmed, and thousands of species of fish could go extinct. There’s also the loss of economic value, due to the loss of tourism in the popular spots.
What Kind Of Sunscreen Can You Use?
In Hawaii there is already a ban for using unsafe sunscreen, with a bill that goes into effect by July, next year.
But not using sunscreen means we risk sun burns and skin cancer, so governments will only allow products that don’t include oxybenzone, which harms corals.
There are sunblocks that use titanium dioxide and zinc oxide that don’t pose a threat to corals. Sunscreens that don’t have nano particles cannot be ingested by corals.
In Mexico, some tour companies allow their tourists to use biodegradable sunscreen, and in some Hawaiian resorts, the tourists receive free reef-safe sunscreen samples with no harmful chemicals.
Dermatologists also advise us to use clothing to protect us from the sun and there are full-body swimsuits available too. Or you could just wear a t-shirt and save the beautiful corals!