The World Reef Day is Everyday
5 Things you can do now!
On the 1st June 2019, Raw Elements USA (reef-safe sunscreen company) and a group of Hawaiian businesses founded the World Reef Day. Their objective? Not only to rise global awareness of the declining health of coral reefs but also send a message that a positive change is possible.
On that note, there's no need to wait for each 1st of June to do our bit, the World Reef Day is everyday and there are simple things we can do now!
The World Reef Day was born from the new legislation that bans the use of octixonate & oxybenzone in sunscreens. The law is meant to remove them from stores to help protect the marine ecosystem. Nonetheless, this first-in-the-world North American law will go into effect in 2021 and only in some states of the USA, starting with Hawaii.
Indeed, my question is; why countries with rich coral reef life do not join to this movement? Maybe pharmaceutical companies have a major stake on the country's economic interests? Maybe too much and above environment's health.
Particularly, I'm thinking about Australia (the Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world), French Polynesia, the Philippines, New Caledonia ... and many more.
Yes, we need to stop buying conventional sunscreens without making sure they don't contain octixonate and oxybenzone.
Equally, there are other reef-safe sunscreens. Below you can find the best ranked, according to research studies done by Craig Downs, executive director of the nonprofit association Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Virginia (USA), and Roberto Danovaro, PhD, Marine Ecology at the Marche Polytechnic University in Italy.
It is a fact that our ocean's coral reefs are losing their vibrant colors, a process also known as "bleaching". Unfortunately, it kills the coral and turns it into a dull brown color. Since 2014, sea surface temperatures have been increasing continuously. It takes only 1°C to bleach the corals. Consequently, high temperatures as well as pollution, water diseases and short intense weather events can irritate corals.
Currently, 75% of the world's reefs are affected by this bleaching process, which is mainly due to high temperatures. Even though octixonate and oxybenzone have been proven to harm corals, there is not yet a 100% sunscreen formula that has no effect on marine life. Therefore, instead of talking about "reef-safe sunscreens", we could call them "reef-less damaging sunscreens", it's better than nothing!
5 things we can do NOW
Buy sunscreens with mineral UV protection (without octixonate and oxybenzone)
Limit CO2 emissions (for example, green electricity - from renewable energies -, recycle properly, make your house energy efficient, etc.)
Reduce the waste that ends up in the ocean. Use self-cleaning water bottles (avoid single-use plastics, stop buying bottled water).
Wear sun protective clothing when you can, instead of putting on sunscreen.
Do not waste water; the less water used, the less dirty water that goes into the ocean.
The Rainforests of the Seas
Although reefs represent a tiny 1% of the world's marine surface, they are home to a quarter of marine species. Therefore, they support entire aquatic life systems, unique fish species, sea turtles and algae. This is why they are considered the rainforests of the seas. Corals are colonies made up of several individual anemones that are interconnected (anemone=polyp attached to a hard surface by its base).
We need them
- Coral reefs may absorb up to 97% of a wave’s energy, buffering shorelines from current & wave erosion. Moreover, they protect us when natural phenomena occur (e.g. storms, cyclones).
- They can hold fishing areas that may be essential to certain communities.
- Reefs attract tourism for their beauty and exoticism. In other words, they contribute to the health of a country's economic system.