As a team, we at Whale Discoveries, are committed to helping our oceans and marine life in as many ways as we possibly can. One of our goals for this year is to ban guests bringing sun blocks that could damage the beautiful coral reefs of Tonga. We hope that by doing this, we will not be contributing to coral bleaching while on our trips- but we also hope to educate people in the hope that they might make it a lifestyle choice to avoid sun blocks that are not reef safe, and spread the education too.
So what exactly is wrong with sun block?
From children we are encouraged to protect our skin, but without ever being told how protecting our skin might be harming something else! Certain chemicals that are found in sun blocks such as oxybenzone, butylparaben, octinoxate and 4-methylbenzylidine camphor, are known to cause coral bleaching- even at seemingly small levels. Every year millions of beach goers diligently apply several layers of sunscreen a day, and with each layer of sunscreen a certain amount gets washed into the ocean with each swim. Coral bleaching is a major problem facing our marine eco systems today, and as coral reef systems are said to be the most diverse ecosystems on the planet- an unhealthy reef system effects a large majority of species.
What can you do?
Always look at the ingredient lists of the products you are buying to make sure reef-damaging substances (such as oxybenzone, butylparaben, octinoxate and 4-methylbenzylidine camphor) aren’t included. Use Sunblocks that have physical blocking factors such as Zinc Oxide. Try and apply sunblock 15 minutes before entering the water to make sure that it gets absorbed into your skin as much as possible. Cover up- use rash guards or wet suits with UV a and UV b blocking factors when in the water, wear hats and cotton cover ups when next to the water.
Help us in conserving the beautiful Tongan reefs, and buy reef safe sunblocks!
Some good reef safe choices to have a look at: