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Help Save Our Coral Reefs

Sunscreen is used daily. It’s in makeup, moisturizers, lotions, and even lip balms. And of course, we use lots on our trips to the beach to avoid turning into burnt lobsters. But what most people don’t realize is that chemicals in sunscreen can harm our marine wildlife. Coral bleaching is a prominent problem in our aquatic ecosystem. Coral Bleaching can be caused by many factors such as pH and pollution but most of all it is affected by rising temperatures in water.

Coral is a mutual symbiotic relationship between coral polyps and zooxanthellae algae. Polyps provide home and shelter while the algae, also giving coral it’s color, is food and nutrients. However, when environment conditions aren’t ideal, the algae can become toxic and the polyps will expel the algae out. As a result, the algae can no longer provide food and polyps turn white. If the environment is unable to return to normal, the coral then dies.

This reaction to rising water temperatures can be mimicked when surrounded by chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are commonly found in sunscreens.

A solution to saving our reefs while still being protected from sunburns and UV rays is to switch over your sunscreen products. To prevent using oxybenzone and octinoxate, make sure to read the labels on your products, specifically the active ingredients. Steer away from oxybenzone and octinoxate and opt for mineral based sunscreens that have zinc oxide and titanium dioxide for active ingredients. Reef safe labels are also good to look out for, as well as non-nano sunscreen.

Together we can protect our coral reefs little by little and restore our aquatic ecosystems.

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