May 23, 2023
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When you’re at the beach, it’s important to lather up with sunscreen to protect your skin. But did you know that it’s just as important to make sure you’re using a product that is environmentally friendly?
An estimated 14,000 tons of sunscreen ends up in our ocean annually, and while this skin-saving lotion does a world of good for humans, the chemicals found in non-reef-safe sunscreen can accumulate in coral tissue and cause issues such as bleaching, abnormal growth, and damaged DNA. These chemicals can also affect the reproductive cycle of corals, which reduces the amount of healthy coral being regenerated across our reef systems.
WHY ARE CORAL REEFS SO IMPORTANT?
According to the Coral Reef Alliance, 25% of all marine life depends on coral reefs, which is why they are so essential to maintaining healthy ocean ecosystems and biodiversity. In fact, without coral reefs, that 25% of marine life would no longer have access to food, shelter, and spawning grounds leading to the extinction of many crucial aquatic species.
Fun Fact: An estimated 500 MILLION+ people also depend on coral reefs for food, income, and coastal protection.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN A REEF-SAFE SUNBLOCK?
When purchasing your sun-care products this summer, be sure to check the label, even if a product claims to be reef safe or biodegradable, as many products falsely claim to be safe while still being toxic to coral and reef fish. Toxic ingredients to avoid include:
The best type of product to use is a “sunblock” that’s main ingredients are Non-Nano zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Adventure Aquarium’s biologists recommend using Stream2Sea’s sun protection products, as they are the only products on the market that have been tested and proven to not cause harm to coral and coral larvae.
WHEN SHOULD I USE REEF-SAFE SUNBLOCK?
All the time! Even if you’re not in the ocean, these chemicals can make their way into the ocean through other waterways, as well as our plumbing systems. So, whether you’re kayaking on the Schuylkill, or visiting Wildwood, Sea Isle, Ocean City, or another beach town, be sure to pack your reef-safe sunblock – our oceans will thank you!
WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP RESTORE CORAL REEFS?
Visit the Aquarium! There is so much research and time being put into the restoration of our oceans’ coral reef systems. In fact, we’re doing some of that right here at Adventure Aquarium. The Aquarium and our team of dedicated biologists participate in the Florida Reef Tract Rescue Project, which is an AZA (Association of Zoos & Aquariums) member-driven coral rescue and conservation network focused on the rescue, housing, and future propagation of Florida corals affected by stony coral tissue loss disease.
Adventure Aquarium is one of 19 coral-holding facilities located throughout the United States that has helped to rescue nearly 2,000 corals for safekeeping
CAN I SEE LIVE CORAL AT ADVENTURE AQUARIUM?
Thanks to the hard work of our biologists, Adventure Aquarium has successfully rescued, propagated, and grown several pieces of coral, some of which are currently on display across several exhibits, including a brand-new dedicated coral exhibit in Zone A as you make your way through Pirate’s Passage. Once these corals reach a certain maturity, they will be placed in the ocean to help regrow coral reefs affected by stony coral tissue loss disease.
Check out this video to learn more about the impacts of coral on our oceans and their aquatic inhabitants.
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