Coral reefs are among the most productive and diverse ecosystems in the world (wanna learn more, check out our Creature Feature) and are attractions for human visitors. While human visitors use sunscreen to protect themselves from harmful UV rays, some ingredients have aversive affects on these corals, particularly oxybenzone. The protection of UV light causes coral to stress and the algae living in their tissue leaves and leads to coral bleaching. Oxybenzone also increases ossification (formation of the coral skeleton) so that coral larvae are encased within their own skeleton and unable to develop. So to keep coral reefs healthy and marine ecosystems diverse and thriving, choose reef-safe sunscreens!
[Photo and caption by Karli Chudeau]