How to Protect Coral Reefs and Save Our Oceans!
Ever since Hawaii’s recent ban, the topic of how to protect coral reefs has become more and more popular. We are losing our ocean’s beautiful coral reefs at an alarming rate, and although most of this may be because of severe weather changes our direct contact and impact with coral reefs should not go unnoticed and can have a very damaging effect.
Our oceans need us to pay better attention to the environment and what we are doing in it.
That is why protecting coral reefs is more than just being conscious of the need, it also involves what we do. So let’s talk about 4 easy ways that you can help protect coral reefs while you dive, snorkel, or swim on your next adventure.
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Protect Coral Reefs and Save the Ocean
Here are four easy steps that anyone can take on their next beach vacation to help protect coral reefs and save our oceans.
1. Reef Safe Sunscreen
This is the most common way you can protect coral reefs-it is even easily labeled as “reef safe”!
We all need to wear sunscreen, that’s obvious, but what may not be so obvious is what we need to look for when buying sunscreen.
The most toxic chemical found in most sunscreens is oxybenzone. Oxybenzone is a chemical that once in water can harm corals by decreasing their defense against bleaching and even damage their DNA. Oxybenzone has also been found to have harmful effects on humans as it is easily and immediately absorbed into our skin and then found in our blood and can effect our hormone levels. Sound terrifying? It is.
So how do you find sunscreen that is reef safe? You can start your search by looking for mineral sunscreens that contain non-nano titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Non-nano means that the particles are larger than 100nm which means that they are too large to enter your blood stream, making them safe for your skin and they are safe for our coral reefs. I personally love this reef safe sunscreen and have been using it for years! In fact, it kept me (and the ocean) safe while I was paddling all day in Hawaii!
Even if you don’t go in the ocean after putting on sunscreen you need to make sure it is reef safe because it can be washed down the drain or sprayed onto the sand thus resulting in it ending up into the ocean, causing further damage.
2. Wear UPF Rated Clothing to Protect Coral Reefs
Another great way to protect coral reefs is to reduce the amount of sunscreen you even need to wear.
You can do this by buying UPF rated clothing such as rash guards, wetsuits, and even bikinis and other swimwear. UPF ratings are basically the clothing equivalent to SPF ratings. This means that clothing rated UPF will protect you from the suns damaging rays.
By doing this you drastically cut down the amount of sunscreen that you need to wear so that even if you can’t find reef safe sunscreens you can still protect our oceans.
3. Respect the Environment
Although this should be the most obvious option for protecting coral reefs it sadly is not. With so many people visiting beaches and beautiful reefs, many want to take ocean souvenirs with them. Don’t do this.
Taking home corals, shells, and other pieces of the environment can harm the eco-system of the reefs because reefs survive on special symbiotic relationships with other creatures. You may feel that there is no harm in one shell, coral, or rock missing, but the truth is that if everyone thought this way then our reefs would have an even more tragic story.
In addition to that, keep a safe distance from all the wildlife! With social media has come the mass amounts of selfies and people are going to great distances to get an “Instagram worthy” pic. When this involves wild animals it can be very very dangerous. Wild animals are, dare I say it, wild. So don’t get too close to these creatures, and never interact, touch, or feed them.
Many places have actual laws against getting within a certain distance of wildlife. These laws are set in place to protect these creatures and to even protect you. For example, many people think sea lions are so cute and they’re right on the beach so they risk getting close enough to take a picture. Yet, these animals have quite large teeth and can even have bad tempers so please stay safe, and keep your distance from all wildlife. I can not stress this enough, STAY AWAY FROM THE WILD ANIMALS.
4. Don’t Litter
We know that what you take from the environment can be damaging, what about what you put in it? Absolutely!
Plastic pollution is very harmful on our environment, especially in our oceans. This is because plastic is not biodegradable and at best just breaks down into micro plastics. These micro plastics often get eaten by animals who can’t tell the difference. These plastics can and have killed many animals and pollute our oceans. You can help prevent this from getting any worse by picking up your trash and disposing of it properly as well as even picking up any stray pieces of trash someone else may have left. If you are looking for another way to reduce plastic waste check out my post here.
Leave it Better Than You Found it
One simple way to remember these tips is to simply leave if better than how you found it. If you found it clean-keep it clean! If you found it trashed, do what you can to clean up the area around you. Think of the huge impact that would be made if every beach-goer applied this principle! These tips on how to protect coral reefs are very easy because they simply involve us to shop smarter and to be more conscious of all of our actions.
What other ways do you strive to protect coral reefs? What brands of reef safe sunscreen do you use? Comment your answers below! Don’t forget to share this post with your friends, family, and anyone who is going to the beach!