Reef Safe Sunscreen
Doesn’t it seem ironic that those of us who snorkel and scuba dive do so to enjoy the beauty of tropical underwater life, yet by invading reefs with sunscreen chemicals slathered all over our bodies we are actually contributing to reef death? If you agree with me that this seems a little counterproductive and silly, you might want to check out Tropical Sea’s new line of Beach Buff Reef Safe sunscreens. In a study Tropical Seas conducted to test the efficacy of their product, they took water from the Pacific Ocean Surf Zone and Yaniqua Bay area (both off of California) and, in laboratory studies, found that their tested product was particularly adhesive to the skin, allowing for less lotion to come off when in contact with water, and the small amount that comes away from the skin will biodegrade in 60-80 days. It doesn’t run more expensive than your average drug-store variety sunscreen, so why not use it even if you aren’t snorkeling? It comes in a wide range of SPF choices, with the highest at 45+, and the bottles are a great compact size for travel.
In a statement, the company said “Certain chemicals used in sunscreen manufacturing can cause the algae in corals to become infected and explode causing the coral to die. It is estimated that 4,000-6,000 metric tons of sunscreen wash off swimmers annually in our oceans worldwide and that up to 10% of coral reefs are threatened by sunscreen- induced bleaching [caused by Zooxanthellae death].”
Note: It is extremely important to be a informed consumer. We at ENN cannot stress enough that reading labels and knowing what you are buying (and putting on your body!) is extremely important, whether you are looking to purchase sunscreen or any other product. When it comes to sunscreen, if you truly wish to help conserve reef life, your sunscreen should not contain titanium dioxide or zinc dioxide, neither of which biodegrade at all. Also, be sure that your sunscreens comply with FDA guidelines. If you have any questions about a product you are going to purchase to use on or in your body, you call either an FDA or company representative, who should be able to answer your query (if they cannot, probably steer clear of the product). As a consumer, it is also smart to look for lab tests and results, like the ones conducted by the aforementioned company.
by M. Molendyke