Tag Archives: ocean

Protect Your Skin AND Coral Reefs Simultaneously

As summer gets into full swing, we hear over and over about the benefits of sunscreen and protecting our skin from the sun. While this is sage advice indeed, there are some very important environmental factors to consider when choosing proper sun protection.

While most of us do not consider the small amount of sunscreen that is washed from our skin and into the ocean while we play in the waves on a hot day, this runoff can have a major impact on neighboring sea life. Specifically, non-biodegradable sunscreen is known to cause great harm to coral reefs. Sunscreen has been shown to activate dormant viruses in the algae that live on coral, causing the algae to explode. This leaves the coral unable to photosynthesize vital chemical energy for the reef’s ecosystem. When the algae die, not only does the coral bleach and die, but it puts the remaining wildlife at risk of starvation. Algae play an important role in the food chain and the coral provides shelter for enumerable sea creatures.
It is estimated that up to 5,000 tons of sunscreen is washed into the oceans each year, putting approximately 10% of the world’s coral reefs in jeopardy. Scientists have called coral reefs the “medicine cabinet of the future,” meaning that the diverse ecosystem could unlock the cures to many diseases.

So what can we do? There are many brands of reef friendly, biodegradable sunscreens made with all natural or easily broken down ingredients. The most popular brand, Reef Safe, is endorsed by the American Lifeguard Association and is provided free on many commercial snorkel tours. Other brands include: Caribbean Solution, Loving Naturals and Lavera.
This is one simple solution to a big problem. Increased awareness can bring about great change. So next time you are on the market for sunscreen, make an eco-conscious and easy decision.

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The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Size of Pacific Garbage Patch

Floating in the Great Pacific is an enormous patch of garbage in which is composed of 80% plastic and said to be twice the size of Texas.  Also known as the “Pacific Trash Vortex”, the garbage in these areas of water are so dense with debris and garbage that have been collected by the water currents of the North Pacific Gyre.  Water samples taken from recent years in comparison to collected samples in the past, shows an increase in the abundance of broken down plastics in the water.

garbage beaches

“Researchers believe this enormous trash zone accumulated over many years from trash being dumped off boats and ocean-going ships, and from trash accumulated on beaches, where it eventually washed in the Pacific Ocean and into the huge zone.” ~cnn.com

Water bottles and plastics from consumer packaging rarely make it to the recycling bin and are the largest contributors to our landfills and in our waters.  The pollution of plastics in the ocean not only presents eco-system and environmental concerns but also health risks as well.  Larger plastics breakdown into smaller pieces in which small fish eat and as they are eaten by larger animals and fish, the toxicity concentration of the plastics multiply by the time they reach our food supply.

The Great Pacfic Garbage Patch on Good Morning America

Because of the abundance of debris, and the constant accumulation of more trash, cleaning up the waters is becoming a near impossible task.  The best way to start is to prevent the further build up of pollution in our oceans.  The next time you’re at the beach or by a river, be mindful of the garbage left and dispose of trash properly.  Save money buy investing in a re-usable water bottle!

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