Hot girl summer is here and she’s brought her partner in crime: hot (girl) flashes. Whether you lounge beside the shoreline or shred through the waves, we inevitably make our way to the beach to escape the unrelenting heat. However, we’re not the only ones burning up these days. Ever-rising ocean temperatures threaten to wipe out the last 60% of coral our islands have left.
Our coral reefs are in constant work mode, providing homes for our ocean’s beloved marine life. But we do not always treat this unwavering force with the respect it deserves. While our reefs spend the summer threatened by the escalating climate, we take advantage of our time in the sunshine, and carelessly slap on the cheapest generic sunscreen before a day out in the water. The problem: most sunscreens contain chemicals that pose harm to the reefs (oxybenzone, octinoxate, and avobenzone, to name a few).
Researchers have mainly studied the effects of oxybenzone, finding that once exposed to the ocean, this chemical can increase the likelihood of coral bleaching. During this process, the microscopic algae that make coral so colorful are harmed, leaving the coral damaged and white. These reefs are a major source of biodiversity in our oceans. If they become wiped out due to bleaching, the survival and reproduction of many species of marine life will be threatened.
How to show our reefs some love:
Though the situation is quite gloomy, it is not entirely washed out. There are some tiny, yet meaningful ways you can help our reefs, starting with a simple switch of sunscreens.
Mineral sunscreens are proven to be a healthier and safer alternative to the classic chemical sunscreens. Packed with ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, these mineral-based formulas are much better for our skin and our reefs. Unlike chemical sunscreen, coral cannot ingest the particles of these ingredients, which leaves them untouched and free of bleaching. These sunscreens benefit us as well. They are a natural compound, made to simply sit on the top of our skin and block UV rays. Taking this small step can lead to long-term positive effects and continued preservation. So the next time you find yourself relaxing at the beach, keep the coral reefs in mind!