Three-quarters of St Croix is surrounded by the largest living barrier reef in the Caribbean. And then we have the incredible reefs just off shore surrounding Buck Reef National Monument. These reefs provide homes for a myriad of plants and animals, including the colorful fish we love to see snorkeling and endangered sea turtles. Our community relies on the beauty of the reefs, the fish that live on the reef and the commerce that comes from diving and snorkeling these gorgeous coral reefs. So, we have a vested interest in preserving and protecting them. One of the ways that you can help us, is by using coral reef safe sunscreen for sun protection while on our island and in our waters.
Coral reefs worldwide have been struggling with rising water temperature, boat anchors, pollution and runoff among other factors. To put it mildly, our oceans’ reefs are in peril. Oxybenzone has been shown to deform and reduce the mobility of coral planulae (the larval stage). It also causes mutations in the DNA of the planulae and affects its endocrine system. And this has a debilitating effect on the corals’ ability to survive rises in ocean temperature due to climate change.
A recent study conducted in the US Virgin Islands and Hawaii has shown that coral reefs with the highest concentrations of oxybenzone, commonly used in sunscreens, are those most frequented by tourists. But, it’s not just the snorkelers in the water. Wearing sunscreen while touring around the island and then coming home and taking a shower eventually creates runoff that ends up in our waters and affecting the coral reef as well. “Oxybenzone is mixed in more than 3,500 sunscreen products worldwide, including popular brands such as Coppertone, Baby Blanket Faces, L’Oreal Paris, Hawaiian Tropic and Banana Boat” according to a Washington Post article addressing the issue.
Here’s how you can help!
We all know that protecting your skin from damaging UV rays is important, especially for the young ones. Make sure that when you are out in the Caribbean sun, particularly when you are out in the water, you are applying coral reef safe sunscreen and protecting yourself from UV rays. Here are some smart and coral-safe ways to protect yourself in the Caribbean Sun.
- Surfer Style. Wear clothing with UV Protection like a Rash Guard while in the water. You can be cute and stylish while protecting your skin.
- Au Natural. Use oxybenzone free sunscreens. Though controversial, some studies imply oxybenzone is harmful to humans as well. Did you know your skin is the largest organ you have… and what you put on it, absorbs into your body. Let’s face it, it may be safer for us too.
- Shade Lovin’. Trust me, here in the islands you’ll get a nice glow simply walking from your car to lunch. Learn to love the shade like an islander and avoid basking in the harmful rays when possible.
- Now that you’re in the know about avoiding sunburn and being kind to our coral reefs, check out our St Croix Snorkeling Guide!
Looking for Sunscreens that are not only guaranteed to be kind to the environment, but also safe for you and your family? Check out some of the options below!