Reef Report for Monday, November 9, 2015
Choose your Sunscreen to be Ocean and Reef-Friendly
Key ingredient in many suncreens found to be toxic to marine life.
It was a bit of surprise to read this story a few days ago, which details the problems that Oxybenzone, a main ingredient in many sunscreens, is a problem for coral reefs.
Weíll let you read all the details in the links below, but the short list of problems found by the research team led by Dr.
John Fauth of the University of Central Florida were:
Oxybenzone was found in high concentrations in the waters around reefs in the Caribbean that are popular with tourists. (I think itís a pretty safe assumption that the same would be true here on the Great Barrier Reef, as we have lots of tourists, lots of sunscreen being used.)
Oxybenzone, was demonstrated to be toxic to both the adult and larval stages of Corals at concentrations equal to those measured on Caribbean coral reefs. (I think itís a pretty safe assumption that the same would be true here on the Great Barrier Reef, corals all over the world are pretty sensitive organisms .)
I immediately went out and looked at all the many bottles of sunscreen we have around the home and office, all of them contained oxybenzone, as a major or even the main ingredient, making up from 16% to 6% of the sunscreens we have at home.
The good news is that we all have alternatives. If you wear a wetsuit, rashguard or lycra skin youíve got great UV protection for those parts of you that are covered.
For those still exposed bits thereís also a great variety of sunscreens that do not contain oxybenzone. The reason for this is also a reason you might want to consider switching, as research has demonstrated that oxybenzone is absorbed through the skin, and can circulate through the bloodstream, and has been linked to endocrine problems and (0ddly enough) skin cancer as well.
Our own thoughts? We are not fans of long-lived, easily absorbed organic compounds that effect the endocrine systems of organisms. If itís toxic to coral itís probably toxic to other organisms as well, and likely ourselves.
Since there are safer and equally effective alternatives why increase the stress on our coral reefs, or yourself? Get a rash guard and switch to sunscreens that do not contain oxybenzone. A quick search on Google
will get you your usual half million results!
The weekly reef report is written by Joel Groberg of DiveTheReef.com,
who compiles them from the many conversations he has with dive staff in the area, as well as† many other local sources in the dive
Index of all reef reports.