Sunscreen Causes Coral Bleaching
The Cape Eleuthera Institute intern book club is where the interns, fellow CEI researchers and IS community come together every Thursday evening to review scientific literature. Past topics include bonefish mortality rates in catch and release fishing and food security in the tropics, this week’s paper discussion investigated the effects of sunscreen on coral reefs and their symbiotic algae, zooxanthelle. A majority of the book club was aware that of the potential negative impact sunscreens could have on coral reefs, but were not sure to what extent.
The study subjected hard coral species, Acropora, to several different concentrations of sunscreen ingredients, including ultra violet filters and preservatives, where they were evaluated for their coral bleaching potential. The results clearly show sunscreen ingredients caused coral mucus to be released leading to loss of membrane integrity and photosynthetic pigments in zooxanthelle. It was determined, even at very low doses, sunscreens cause rapid and complete bleaching of hard coral within 96 hours.
As tourism increases within marine areas, sunscreen induced coral bleaching could become a more evident, threatening the high biodiversity and productivity of coral reef ecosystems like our home in Cape Eleuthera, The Bahamas. Our discussion has brought a greater awareness and understanding to the importance of using good quality, biodegradable sunscreen in our coastal marine environment. Our mission is to help create better awareness and greater urgency in the importance of selecting reef and body friendly sunscreens. We would like to share this with you, our Foundation community, by providing links to websites that rank effectiveness and quality of over 700 cosmetic-sunscreen brands.
Always wear sunscreen, but remember not all sunscreens are created Equal!
Click on the following links for more information.