I have been getting more and more fascinated and involved with ocean conservation and coral reef research. I am also learning how I can help to save endangered or near endangered fish species. I am in training right now to become an Underwater Naturalist and Master Scuba Diver. So far, I have learned quite a bit and am enjoying scuba diving experiences and training with and around aquatic life. I will admit glowingly, this is one of the most exciting endeavors I have ever embarked upon.
At Me and a Tree Inc, we decided we wanted to go beyond our own reef safe sunscreen to understand more fully what we could do to help educate while also learning ourselves. Florida waters are visited and enjoyed by millions of tourists each day. Florida has the third largest barrier reef in the world. The first is Australia and the second is the Yucatan. We need to understand how pollution and chemicals affect the marine life and water quality. Think about all the sunscreen that's used by tourists?
Part of what started me on this journey was my visit to the Yucatan Peninsula about five years ago. They do not allow commercial brand sunscreens in the water at all. See the article from National Geographic regarding the study of corals and sunscreen here
The study found four ingredients present in most sunscreen that speed up and contribute to coral bleaching and finally coral death of the organism in a short time. That affects fish and our delicate ocean. It will affect us too if we don't make some changes. Our oceans are struggling right now and time is ticking. I wanted to share with you the four ingredients found to bleach rapidly (and kill) corals at an alarming rate. Four common sunscreen ingredients are shown to cause complete coral bleaching at very low concentrations. See below.
Oxybenzone -(benzophenone-3) – Sunscreen with several suspected human health effects.
Butylparaben -Preservative with several suspected human health effects.
Octinoxate -(Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate) - Sunscreen with several suspected human health effects.
4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4MBC) - Sunscreen with several suspected human health effects. Allowed in Europe and Canada, not in USA or Japan.
Have you read the ingredients on the back of you lotions and creams? It's something to consider seriously. There are alternative options. I would like to see more awareness to the general public regarding oceans and the things we use on our bodies. Certainly there are other factors but these are significant due to the coral reefs being so highly trafficked by visitors.
Regular people just like you and I can make a difference by selecting better ingredients in our sunscreen as well as make sure trash isn't choking marine life. I will be looking forward to bringing this issue to light for the South Florida. I care about the ocean, and it's inhabitants, and I enjoy swimming and seeing nature in a vibrant, healthy environment. The ocean is an incredible legacy we must pass on to the next generation. If we don't start taking serious measures and getting involved by considering our everyday actions and making better choices- we will not have an abundant ocean- and perhaps no sea life at all. We can do better, and I am starting today.
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