Sunscreen killing off coral ~ 10% of reefs in danger

A few years ago, while on a scuba-diving trip to the Red Sea, I looked at a friend of mine who was sunbathing and told her that you could make a killing promoting "Coral-Safe Sunblock."  She freaked at me because she wasn’t wearing any.  Then she suddenly realized that no such product existed.  I looked her and said, "See, I’m right!"

Well, my premonition was right about the unsafe effects of sunscreen on coral.  It’s bad, according to National Geographic.  The chemicals create a bleaching effect according to the article’s author Ker Than:


The whole article is really worth a read and contains the full size and quality photo.  It refers to the January 3, 2008, study "Sunscreens Cause Coral Bleaching by Promoting Viral Infections" (by Danovaro, Bongiorni, Corinaldesi, Gionvannelli, Damiani, Astolfi, Greci, and Pusceddu) from Environmental Health Perspectives.

If you don’t have time to read all of this info, the study’s abstract "Results" section says:

"Sunscreens cause the rapid and complete bleaching of hard corals, even at extremely low concentrations. The effect of sunscreens is due to organic UV filters, which are able to induce the lytic viral cycle in symbiotic zooxanthellae with latent infections."

In other words, the sun keeps the viruses from growing and exploding the algae surrounding the coral, creating danger for up to 10% of coral reefs.

It’s only a matter of time before labels will begin appearing on sunscreen bottles, like "Dolphin-Safe Tuna."  You see, coral is an honorary "cute animal."  You can’t hurt it or else you’re going to have a wave of angry people coming at you.  Copper Tone and Hawaiian Tropic, you better get ready for the demands coming your way.

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Posted on January 30, 2008
Filed Under Coral, Diving, Pharmaceuticals | 5 Comments


5 Responses to “Sunscreen killing off coral ~ 10% of reefs in danger”

  1. cube on January 31st, 2008 12:54 pm

    The law of unintended circumstances can bite one in the a$$ more often than not.

  2. Katia on March 18th, 2008 11:57 am

    I think you should put this info in newspapers around the u.s. states people should relize we are doing this we already caused global warming there is no need to create another problem
    of saline MI

  3. Shemae on April 8th, 2008 8:17 pm

    OMG! I cannot believe that sunscreen could affect corals at such, a horrible way. I agree with Katie, this should definitely be in the news! THis could hurt the corals and corals play a vital role in the ocean.


  4. rswift on April 8th, 2008 8:50 pm

    This has been in the news. For several years. Just not in big, glossy pictures that require minimal reading. Pay attention.

  5. zuubar on August 16th, 2009 1:12 am

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