What are coral reefs?
Coral Reefs are “diverse underwater ecosystems held together by calcium carbonate structures secreted by corals,” says Wikipedia. Corals are built by the secretions of colonies of tiny sea animals. The hard carbonate exoskeletons that result are the perfect environment for polyps to thrive.Since these types of reefs grow best in shallow, warm, sun-drenched water, the waters around St. John make the perfect environment for this underwater world to thrive!
Why are Coral Reefs important?
Despite the limited number of coral reefs on this earth, a quarter of all marine species call one home. Wikipedia notes that coral reefs “form some of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth”.
Why do Coral Reefs need protection?
A simple swipe of a swimmer’s fin across delicate coral could take hundreds of year to fix. And that sunscreen you’re so diligent about wearing? Well, the directions to “reapply after swimming” are essentially telling you that your sunscreen is being left in the ocean.
“Coral reefs are fragile ecosystems” and “very sensitive to water temperature”. The coral reefs found in the most beloved spots off St. John and throughout the Virgin Islands are negatively affected by sunscreen residue, global warming (aka climate change), and physical damage by snorkelers, scuba divers, and boaters.
What can I do to protect and help the Coral Reefs?
As one person, you can make a difference! Choose to wear UV protective clothing instead of sunscreen! Today you can find rash guards, board shorts, and swim pants in the latest styles and fashions, so suit-up and save the coral reefs when you swim or snorkel, or wear sunscreen that’s safe for the environment.
Read more about whether your sunscreen is safe for the environment online here. Plant-based oils (e.g., eucalyptus, lavender, etc.) and beeswax can unleash chemicals that are harmful to the environment when emulsified in body products. Checkout environmentally-friendly Stream2Sea products here.
When engaging in any water activity in the Caribbean, the best advice to follow is to “look, don’t touch.” Beauty shows itself at every turn on St. John, so our advice to you is to relax and enjoy your surroundings and try to avoid throwing Mother Nature a sucker punch!
How much damage to Coral Reefs does my sunscreen do, really?
Sadly, a lot. Sensitive Coral Reefs can die, or become “bleached”, with the introduction of foreign chemicals, as well as changes in water temperature. Many sunscreens on the market today contain ingredients that are harmful to the environment. Does your sunscreen stack-up to saving the environment?
Learn more about coral reefs from this informative blog.