Coral reefs around the world are dying at alarming rates. Warmer waters from climate change, pollutants in the ocean and direct human contact are all contributing factors to the declining health of coral reefs.
So what can you do to protect coral reefs while still being able to enjoy them?
USE CORAL REEF-SAFE SUNSCREEN
Many people may not know that certain types of sunscreen can actually harm coral reefs. While not all sunscreen ingredients are lethal, a recent study by the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory [HEL] found that a chemical called benzophenone-3, aka BP-3 or oxybenzone, is shown to cause coral bleaching and deformities. “Oxybenzone is an emerging contaminant of concern in marine environments—produced by swimmers and municipal, residential and boat/ship wastewater discharges,” states the HEL study.
In 2018, Hawaii became the first state to ban the sale of sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, another chemical found to harm coral. While it’s unknown if other states will enact similar laws, swimmers around the globe can take action now when shopping for sunblock.
To help save time from reading lengthy ingredient labels, Hawaii.com compiled a list of reef-safe sunscreens, many of which you can find at your favorite retailer and online.
LOOK, DON’T TOUCH, & MIND YOUR FLIPPERS
When snorkeling or diving at reefs, use common sense and never touch coral or its surrounding sea creatures. Naturally occurring oils found in human skin can harm and even cause death to coral.
Always be mindful of your snorkeling and scuba diving gear, especially flippers in shallow-water reefs. All it takes is one kick or bump to damage or kill coral. Also, avoid the temptation to stand on or near coral, even when adjusting equipment. “This can kill the living coral polyps that are the builders of the reef structure,” reports Sail Hawaii. “Swim well and clear of the reef and kick to keep [your] head
out without the possibility of kicking the reef, or search for a sandy or coral-free shallow place to stand. Don’t touch, pickup or hold reef life, including octopus.”
JOIN THE REEF RESTORATION MOVEMENT
Around the globe, scientists and marine enthusiasts are making an effort to restore and revive coral reefs. A University of Miami program called Rescue a Reef is working to rehabilitate local Staghorn coral populations throughout Miami’s coral reefs.
To promote awareness and education, Rescue a Reef leads regular expeditions for recreational divers and snorkelers to help in the Staghorn restoration efforts.
USE TRAC ECOLOGICAL PRODUCTS ON YOUR BOAT
At TRAC, we’re committed to producing marine-safe cleaning products that not only get the job done well, but also are harmless for the environment. Whether using our Barnacle Buster, Descaler, GreenClean Boat Soap or another one of our various products, all of our cleaners are safe, non-toxic and biodegradable.
For more information about our environmentally safe marine cleaning products,
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