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How Your Family Can Protect the Coral Reefs

Posted by Allison Kelly on

In order to protect the coral reefs, we must first discuss why the coral reefs need protecting. Why are they in danger? Well, their demise has much to do with consumers and vacationers simply not knowing that their actions are affecting the health of the ocean’s coral reefs. It all starts with becoming educated.


Coral reefs are natural barriers to coastlines and they significantly benefit economies by protecting against erosion, cultivating fisheries, supporting tourism, providing substances for certain medicines, and providing beauty, culture and aesthetics to entire communities.


So what’s causing the damage?


Well, many things. Overfishing, global warming, and pollution just to name a few. Many people don’t feel that they can help save the coral reefs because they don’t have direct impact on chemical spills or fishing practices. But there is one easy switch that anyone can make to protect our coral reefs: switch from chemical sunscreen to mineral sunscreen.


Chemical Sunscreens Contain Harmful Oxybenzone


Sunscreens containing oxybenzone bleaches and kills coral reefs and once a coral reef dies, the ecosystem that depends on its health is soon compromised, too. The organisms collapse or are forced to move out to their natural habitats, which soon also becomes detrimental.


This is what healthy coral looks like.

This is what damaged coral looks like.

It only takes a very small amount of oxybenzone to cause damage to a coral reef. The equivalent to one drop of water of oxybenzone in six Olympic-sized swimming pools of ocean water is all it takes to begin to cause damage to delicate coral reefs.


According to an article published in the Washington Post, the levels of oxybenzone found in concentrations of ocean water in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands were 12 times higher than than the amount it takes to even begin damaging the coral reefs.


So what can you and your family do to help protect the coral reefs and reverse the damage that’s already been done?


1. Switch to Mineral Sunscreens.

Mineral sunscreens don’t contain the toxic chemical oxybenzone. For that reason, they’re the safest option when it comes to our oceans and coral reefs.

2. When snorkeling and scuba diving, never touch the coral.

Coral is a living ecosystem. Leave it be! Touching coral reefs and stirring up sediment around coral reefs can smother and disrupt them.

3. When spending a day at the beach, bring a trash bag!

Don’t be a litterbug and let trash blow away. Pick up after yourselves and stick to reusable bottles and containers.

4. Spread the word!

Educate your friends on how chemical sunscreens are killing the coral reefs. If you’re reading this, share this blog!

5. Use energy-efficient light bulbs.

Being energy-efficient at home reduces your carbon footprint and lessens greenhouse gas emissions that worsen global warming and its effects — in this case, its negative effects on oceans and our coral reefs.

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