Consider for a moment how many people may be in the ocean at this very moment? Sunblock or suntan lotion on my body (even as big as it is) probably doesn't impact the reef all that much. Will it make a difference if I pay the little extra and buy the good reef safe stuff?
Estimated that 14,000 tons of sunscreen enters the sea annually. That is a lot of chemical added to the sea. Most have harmful chemicals in them such as, oxybenzone, butylparaben, octinoxate and 4-methylbenzylidine camphor. In a study posted on National Geographic, it has shown that these chemicals can cause a virus in the coral which is a direct cause of coral bleaching, even at low levels. This is such a concern that Hawaii introduced a bill to ban "reef-unfriendly" sunscreens
So what can you do?
Divers Alert Network (DAN) posted some tips in their Sunscreen Pollution article which include: Do your research and read what is in it, not just the name or the label. Applying protective lotion to only the neck, face, feet and backs of hands and wear sun clothes designed to reduce UV exposure. Doing this can reduce sunscreen loads into the water by 90 percent.
At Coral Key Scuba, we actually discontinued selling one of the most popular brand of Reef Safe - Biodegradable Waterproof sun screen because it contains both oxybenzone and octinoxateit. We now sell the Badger brand of products. They are truly reef safe, natural, and effective. We also stock multiple brands of rash guards that have a SPF rating of 50+. Buying the good stuff and covering up is just another step in the right direction to help protect our reefs.