Researchers are finding that some compounds of sunscreen can harm the corals on our reef. It seems that some chemicals in sunscreen can awaken coral viruses. The result of this is that then the coral becomes sick and expel their life-giving alge. Without these algae, the coral bleaches and often dies.
Research tells us that 4000 to 6000 TONS of sunscreen enters the reef annually due to the fact that people put sunscreen on and go swimming, snorkeling and/or diving in the ocean. Yess offcourse we need to protect our bodies from sunburns but we can reduce the risk of harming coral by taking a more "reef friendly" approach to sun protection.
How? By checking the labels of the sunscreen to see what kind of ingredients are in the sunscreen. It apears that titanium ocide or zinc oxide (natural mineral ingredients) are not harmful to corals. Even sunscreens made for children or sensitive skin contain gentler compounds.
At Sunshine Divers we also advice our guests to put sunscreen (and preferable the good one) 45 minutes before they enter the water. In this way we try to educate our guests more about eco friendlyness and to protect the reef. Even little changes can have big impact!