How Sunscreen Could Be Destroying Coral Reefs

We all want to make sure that our oceans remain as healthy as possible because everything in the world is intrinsically tied to the more than 70 percent of water that makes up the planet. Anything that happens to the ocean will have an effect felt even in the deepest parts of the hottest deserts, and this is already being observed today. Years of abuse and the overuse of carbon emitting resources has taken its toll on our oceans and the results are devastation like few have ever seen all occurring in our lifetimes. Just to outline some of the most serious problems caused by any damaged or changes to our oceans include:

  • Super storms
  • Food scarcity
  • Mass extinction
  • Changes in weather patterns
  • Hotter summers and colder winters
  • More frequent wildfires

Looking at all those factors, it’s only natural that you would want to do everything in your power to make sure that our oceans stay in tip top form, but what you might not know is that you could be damaging it without actually intending to. Take your sunscreen products for example since some brands contain chemicals that are so toxic to coral reefs that they affect the very DNA of the young marine beds. The chemical in question is oxybenzone and it causes things like endocrine disruption and even DNA damage which then lead to the deaths of the corals in question. The chemical also has the ability to cause or at the very least worsen the bleaching process of corals which is where they reject the presence of organisms that they need in order to thrive through a symbiotic relationship. As you might imagine, this then causes the deaths of the corals and it’s occurring pretty broadly already because of climate change.

coral reefs

coral reefs

Now, there are a few things about this issue that are quite unfortunate since it’s been happening for a long time and would therefore take a lot of effort to change. For one thing, people have been using sunscreen for a very long time and it’s actually encouraged by doctors in order to prevent skin damage due to the harsh rays of the sun. As a result, a lot of people have been blissfully protected without ever knowing that such protection was actually causing harm if they swam near where coral reefs are. Heck, even those who are trying to preserve coral reefs wear sunscreen and so it’s an ironic situation.

With that said, the solution to the problem seems pretty simple since there are actually sunscreen brands that don’t contain the dangerous chemical. So all you really need to do is to switch to those brands. When the companies making the sunscreen products containing said chemical realize the problem, they would either change their recipe in order to reflect the wants of their customers or campaign against the findings of the research that oxybenzone. In any case, the most important thing that you can do is to inform people of this problem so that they will know.

Protecting The Ocean

With the continuous exploitation of the oceans that lead to its destruction, many environmental activists initiate ocean and marine life protection acts and treaties. These aim to preserve, protect, and sustain the oceans. Some of the acts and treaties are:

• Convention on Fishing and Conservation of Living Resources of the High Seas

Due to the absence of borders in high seas, conservation issues are quite difficult to resolve in the past. Moreover, there are different approaches to the exploitation of marine resources from country to country. Thus, it became an important issue for countries to work together in order to have a unified front on sustainable fishing. Its main purpose is to create a framework through which international conservation laws can be enforced on the high seas. The goal is accomplished if the conservation is mutually beneficial to everyone. Today, marine conservation became more challenging due to new fishing technologies.

• Marine Mammal Protection Act

This legislation was introduced back in 1972, which prohibit the import, export, sale, and hunting of marine mammals within the jurisdiction of the United States. People on ecotourism holidays are to keep their distance from marine mammals during their trip. This is due to a provision in the act which classifies ‘taking’ a marine mammal as ‘hunting, killing, capture, and/or harassment of any marine mammal; or, the attempt at such.’ People who are caught harassing wildlife will have to face a set of stiff penalties.

• Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972

This is also known as ‘Ocean Dumping Act’ that allows the regulation of dumping activities of industrial and municipal wastes into the oceans or other territorial waters of the United States. Its goal is to ‘prevent or strictly limit the dumping into ocean waters of any material that would adversely affect human health, welfare, or amenities, or the marine environment, ecosystems, or economic potentialities.’ Moreover, this mechanism was able to warn tourists of dangerous metal toxicities in different bodies of water. Thus, tourist can now swim, snorkel, dive, and fish in the oceans.

protecting the ocean

protecting the ocean

• United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

This law is one of the most important maritime environmental treaties because it makes clear responsibilities and rights of all nations that use the oceans. The set of regulations are used in order to protect the health and resources of the oceans from rampant overuse of individuals and businesses. In an extent, it also set national and international water boundaries, as well as the exclusive economic zones of all countries that touch the oceans.

Exploring The Deep Sea

The ocean is a very fascinating part of our environment. It covers more than 70 percent of the surface of the Earth. It is hard to imagine but 97 percent of the Earth’s water can be found in our oceans. The tiny percentage that is not in the ocean, about two percent, is frozen up in glaciers and ice caps.

People have always wondered how it looks like below the waters of the ocean, what kind of sea creatures are living there, and how can these creatures survive under the water. Thanks to the evolution of technology, there are now several instruments that are used by scientists and researchers to study the ocean.

exploring the deep sea

exploring the deep sea


Usually, scientists and researchers investigated the ocean from ships on its surface. But, it is more important to be able to immerse in the environment so that they can understand it better. One of the world’s first deep-sea human submersible was built in 1964. It is used to find a hydrogen bomb lost in the Mediterranean and to explore the wreck of the Titanic. A submersible owned by the US Navy and operated by WHOI, can carry three people at a time, including two scientists and a pilot. It can travel to a depth of 14,800 feet on dives that last six to ten hours.

Robotic Voyagers

Some explorations of the ocean are left to robots because it can harm humans, especially diving in deep parts of the water. The remotely operated vehicles or ROVs are unmanned vessels controlled by scientists from a ship via a tether cable. It contains sonar equipment, video cameras, and still cameras. It also has manipulator arms that are used to collect rock samples, sediment, or ocean life and bring it to the surface.

Autonomous underwater vehicles or AUVs are other robotic voyagers. It can navigate vast distances and collect scientific data without any human control. It is used to survey the mid-ocean or explore the seafloor, descending as far as 19,700 feet. The vehicle can generate detailed maps of the seafloor using sonar, and take photographs of mid-ocean ridges, deep-sea vents, and cold seeps. It can also measure the physical characteristics of the ocean like temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen.

Undersea instruments

Some processes of studying the ocean involve constant monitoring. Thus, scientists use different instruments that continuously provide the data that they needed. They have developed sensors that do a wide range of data collection from measuring water temperature and acidity, to image plankton, and to record whale calls.

Profiling buoys is used to measure chemical signatures that monitor the health of the ocean. It can travel down to 330 feet and drift freely. It sends the data back via satellite while ascending to the surface.

Floats and drifters are still currently being used by researchers. It is one of the oldest methods for studying ocean circulation. These instruments are being dropped to the water and the researchers let the ocean carry it wherever it may go.

Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler or ADCP is an instrument used to measure how fast the water is moving across an entire water column. If it is anchored to the seafloor, it can measure the current speed at the bottom, and also at equal intervals all the way up to the surface.

Interesting Facts About The Ocean

Earth is mostly covered with water, with nearly 71% of its surface or about 362 million square kilometers composing of the ocean. The average depth of ocean is 12,200 feet and has a deepest point called as the Mariana Trench. It is located in the western Pacific with 36,198 feet deep. It is not a surprise that there are mountains below the ocean. There are ocean ridges that form a great mountain range that weaves its way through all the major oceans. It is approximately 40,000 miles or 64,000 kilometer long and is the largest single feature on Earth. The highest mountain that is located in the ocean floor is the Mauna Kea, which can be found in Hawaii. From the ocean floor, its base rises at 33,474 feet but is only 13,680 feet above sea level. You can only view one-third of its whole size. Here are other interesting facts about the ocean.



  • The average temperature of the ocean is only 2°C or 39°F.
  • The Monterey Bay Submarine Canyon located in California, is deeper and large in volume than the Grand Canyon.
  • Mount Everest is famous because it is the highest point on the Earth’s surface measuring up to 5.49 miles. But it is still more than 1 mile shorter than the Challenger Deep, the deepest point in the ocean at 6.86 miles.
  • Water pressure at the deepest point in the ocean is more than 8 tons per square inch. This is equivalent to a person trying to hold 50 gigantic jets.
  • The Antarctic ice sheet that forms and melts over the ocean each year is nearly twice the size of the United States.
  • The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure on Earth. It measures up to 1,243 miles. It can also be seen from the moon, just like the Great Wall of China.
  • The Gulf Stream off the Atlantic seaboard of the United States flows 300 times faster than the typical flow of the Amazon River, the world’s largest river.

Major Threats To Our Oceans

Since the beginning, people have exploited the ocean. We regarded it as an endless supply of food, a useful transport route, and a convenient place to dump human wastes. Because of these human activities, especially over the last few decades, we have finally pushed the oceans to their limits. The largest living space on Earth is deteriorating very fast due to overfishing, pollution, being taken for granted, carelessly being abused and destroyed by every human. The negative effects of our own selfishness do not only threaten and affect the marine habitats and its species, but the health, living standards, and security of all humans as well.

major threats to our oceans

major threats to our oceans

Unsustainable fishing

90% of the world’s fisheries are already fully exploited and overfished. Billions of unwanted fish and other animals die in the process because some people use destructive methods to pull their catches. Some fishermen uses explosives and bottom trawling, both of it destroying the sea floor habitat and scoops up other species that will be tossed aside. This causes many species to be listed as threatened and endangered. Unsustainable fishing is the largest threat to the ocean life and habitats, and affecting the livelihoods and food security of people all over the world.

Inadequate protection

Our planet is covered with over 70% of the ocean, but only 3.4% of it is being protected. The worst part is, the majority of the world’s few marine parks and reserves are protected in name only. Humans are not properly educated or they simply do not really care about the ocean because they still continue to hunt down endangered species like sharks. Shark finning, where sharks are captured to get their fins, should be stopped.

Tourism and development

People are developing coastlines into housing projects and other tourist developments. Many of the beaches now are inhabited by humans and the intense presence is taking its toll on the marine life.


Oceans are also like highways, ships are always travelling to transport people or carry different kinds of goods. Because of this traffic, ships are also leaving marks in the oceans that include: oil spills, ship groundings, anchor damage, and the dumpish of human and oily wastes. All of these marks are endangering marine habitats worldwide.

Oil and gas

Oceans are major sources of oil, gas, and minerals. But due to the prospecting and drilling activities of humans, it poses a major threat to sensitive marine habitats and species. There is also a threat of chemical and oil spills in the ocean floor that can seriously damage the ocean. The worst part is the rehabilitation process for the ocean will took several years before it completely heals the damage.


Human wastes in the land greatly affect the marine life. Pollutants in the land, such as: untreated sewage, garbage, fertilizers, pesticides, industrial chemicals, and plastics; eventually goes into the ocean. Some people are even deliberately dumping their wastes in the bodies of water. We all know that one of the major food sources of humans is the oceans. Thus, it is not surprising that the negative effects in the marine life are also harming humans.

Climate change

Still because of human activities, it resulted into global warming and climate change that have already marked an effect on the oceans. We can now observe coral bleaching, rising sea levels, and changing species distributions.

The WWF or the World Wildlife Fund is one of the largest organizations in the world. They aim to conserve nature and ecological processes by preserving biodiversity, ensuring sustainable use of natural resources and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful use of resources and energy. They currently have five strategies to attain their goal:

  • Advocate for integrated ocean management
  • Support small-scale fisheries and sustainable aquaculture
  • Promote the value of services provided by ecosystems
  • Manage the impacts of extractive industries
  • Promote sustainable marine tourism

If you are interested to promote caring for the ocean to other people, you can start by volunteering for an organization. There are several local and international groups that you can join. You can contribute by creating a website for your group, with this you will be able to: inform other people about issues in the oceans; encourage people to participate in your activities; and persuade them to join. You can also ask people for donations to help in your projects or you can sell items that can promote the organization’s plans. The income will be used as a source of funds. There are several online marketing tools that can help you. If you wanted to know more, this great website will guide you about the best tool that will suit your needs.

As what Mother Teresa once said, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” If only people will have more active participation to solve the issues regarding the oceans, then it is possible to still save the marine life and have balance in our nature.

How To Care For The Ocean

If you are going to care about the ocean and save if from all sorts of pollution, start by minding your carbon footprint on the environment. To save the ocean, it all starts with the amount of dirt we all live in the environment. All this dirt will always end up in the ocean when the flash floods come. Start also to check on the amount of energy that you personally take. Use the energy saving bulbs to ensure that you do not end up using a lot of energy. Saving on the energy goes a long way to help in reducing the strain on the oceans to help in generating energy. Choose advanced thermostats that know when to switch on and off.

how to care for the ocean

how to care for the ocean

It always feels nice when we eat the seafood. Some of the seafood might get extinct simply because most people are depending on it so much. Look for alternatives to such cases. The alternatives would give room for the seafood to regrow and become plenty once again. There should be groups all over the world that can actually advocate for the better ocean environment. There is the need to practice sustainable fishing methods. Do not over depend on the ocean for fishing. The list below is more practices that can lead to taking care of the ocean.

– Using fewer plastic products
– Take care of the beach
– Supporting the organizations fighting to protect the ocean
– Influence people living around you to protect the ocean
– Travel the ocean using the accredited vessels