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(Photo: David E. Shormann)A manta ray swims over coral-smothered rocks in a remote area of the Hawaiian Islands.
On July 3, Hawaii became the first state to ban the sale of sunscreens considered harmful to coral reefs. The bill received bipartisan support. Banned sunscreens contain the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate, which, as I'll explain in a moment, can harm coral. Personally, I'm against excessive environmental regulations that keep people from enjoying creation and shut down businesses for no good reason. So, if you are still reading, please use this as an opportunity to educate yourself on marine ecosystems and what you can do to keep them, and yourself, healthy.
Marine - Creatures - Corals - Experienced - Aquarists
Some marine creatures are extremely hardy. Corals are not. Experienced marine aquarists know firsthand the difficulties of keeping corals alive. Filter feeders, corals demand proper light levels and near-perfect water quality. Corals share an amazing symbiotic relationship with algae. Known as zooxanthellae, the algae's photosynthesis products provide food for the coral animal. In turn, the coral provide shelter for the algae.
Zooxanthellae need sunlight. But recently, a team of researchers from Haereticus Environmental Laboratory discovered the sunlight-blocking properties of chemicals like oxybenzone are bad for corals. A scientific paper published in 2016 reveals some coral species start dying at concentrations as low as 62 parts per trillion (nanograms per liter).
Paper - Research - Resident - Scientist - CA
According to the 2016 paper, research began after a local resident mentioned to lead scientist C.A. Downs that the visible sheen of sunscreen they were observing on the surface of Trunk Bay could be damaging the coral. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, Trunk Bay's coral population has been on the decline for over 25 years now. It receives very little human impact from known coral killers like sewage and other nonpoint source pollutants. However, up to 2,000 visitors per day come to play in its...
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