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The harmful effects of sunscreen

By Slickrock Adventures on December 2, 2015

belize coral

One of the many fun things about having a business like this is I become friends with our guests, and sometimes I haven’t even met them yet. Past guests send me articles they know I will find interesting. Recently Julie, an almost three-timer (Her 3rd trip to our island starts this upcoming Christmas Day!), sent me a link to a very interesting article from the National Aquarium about the harmful effects of sunscreen on coral reefs worldwide. This is something we have all heard about, but this article explains it well. Did you know, for example, that “between 4,000 and 6,000 metric tons of sunscreen enter reef areas annually, subjecting corals to oxybenzone.” Yikes.

The bottom line is you should discontinue using sunscreen when swimming near coral except for the parts of your body you can’t cover, like your nose and the backs of your hands. Everything else can easily be covered with an inexpensive dive skin. And don’t ever put sunscreen on your forehead when snorkeling because if your mask leaks even a tiny bit it causes the sunscreen to leak down your face and into your eyes. Very painful! And that’s how the coral feels about it too.

[photo by Meg Griffiths]