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March 04, 2020

There are few things more relaxing than a trip to the beach. Unfortunately, your day on the beach can spell disaster for coral reefs and ocean habitats if you’re not careful. What you bring to the beach, what you wear, and most importantly—what you leave behind, all have an impact on the ocean environment. You may even be harming our precious coral reefs without realizing it. We know you love the environment just as much as we do, so we’re here to share five ways you can help protect coral reefs and ocean environments the next time you take a relaxing trip to the beach. 

1. Use Reef-Friendly Sunscreen

Many sunscreens contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are chemicals thatleave coral reefs highly susceptible to bleaching. Bleaching in coral reefs occurs when coral is stressed because of environmental changes—usually from increased water temperatures. This process causes coral to expel the symbiotic algae that provide the coral with protection, food, and color. Without algae, the coral is vulnerable to disease and will die if the environmental stress continues. When coral reefs die, it affects the survival of many other animals and organisms in the ocean. 

Sunscreens containing certain chemicals can lead to coral bleaching and harm coral reef environments. When choosing your sunscreen and other skincare products, make sure to look for phrases like “active chemical-free” or “reef-friendly.” TropicSport is a great option because all of our products are created with the environment in mind. Learn moreabout how TropicSport helps ocean life andother things you should look for in a good sunscreen.

2. Go Plastic-Free 

Themost common items found on beaches and in the ocean are single-use plastic versions of straws, drink bottles, bottle caps, cigarette butts, and food wrappers. Not only do they leave a mess, but many animals mistake them for food. Not only does a lot of plastic ocean trash look like food to marine animals (turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish), it alsosmells like food

The bad news is thatplastic that gets in the ocean stays there. Much of the plastic in our oceans isn’t floating around in big chunks—instead, it has broken down into small rice-sized pieces of plastic that small fish, birds, and over 200 other species of animals recognize as food. 

Instead of bringing single-use plastics to the beach (or using them at all). Consider replacing them with plastic-free, reusable alternatives such as: 

  • Reusable metal, glass, or silicone food containers 
  • Reusable water bottles
  • Reusable food storage bags 
  • Cloth bags to carry food and supplies to the beach
  • Portable ashtray (cigarette butts are one of the most common items found on beaches)

Aiming for a plastic-free lifestyle takes a little work, but the environmental benefits for our oceans and coral reefs are worth the effort. 

3. Keep the Beach Clean 

If you visit the beach, you have an impact on beach and ocean environments. When you go to the beach there are two important points to consider. The first is what you bring with you and the second is what you leave behind. Trash, chemicals, and waste left on (or near) the beach, ultimately ends up in the water and can harm coral reefs and ocean environments. Items like plastic bags can get caught on coral andblock coral from getting the sunlight it needs to photosynthesize. Bags and nets can also get caught on reefs damaging them and entangling marine animals that swim by or try to eat them. 

When you’re at the beach the goal is to leave no trace that you were there. Bring reusable items with you and pick up and take home any trash you find. If you have a pet, make sure you clean up after them if they do their “business” on the beach—or better yet, take your pet on a short walk away from the water while they go to the bathroom.

Before you head home, do a quick scan of the area around you and pick up any trash you see—even if it’s not yours. Pack up any trash you find and bring it home with you so you can dispose of it properly and recycle it if possible. The less trash left on or near the beach, the less chance an unsuspecting sea creature or bird will harm themselves with it. 

4. Recycle Aluminum 

For many years people were under the impression that aluminum cans, in particular, broke down quickly in salty seawater. However, the truth is far from that. In fact, aluminum that ends up in the ocean takes approximately200 years to fully decompose. This is because aluminum cans aren’t made from only aluminum. The inside and outside of an aluminum can is actually coated in a thin layer of plastic, and the branding on the outside of the can often use toxic ink.Toxins are bad news for coral reefs and can affect tiny coral polyps that form on the reefs.  

Recycling aluminum and other materials whenever possible helps keep them out of our oceans. Thankfully, aluminum is one of the easiest materials to recycle; and it doesn’t take many resources to turn and old can into a new one. Make sure to rinse out your aluminum cans before you recycle them so the smell doesn’t attract bugs, and crush them to save space. If you don’t have a curbside recycling program in your area, check with your city to find out where you can take your aluminum to be recycled and help keep them out of our oceans and away from our coral reefs! 

5. Volunteer to Conserve Coral Reefs

Finally, one of the best ways you can contribute to the preservation and restoration of coral reefs is by volunteering your time. You can easily organize abeach clean-up with your friends and family or join a local group for an event that is already planned. 

You can also volunteer abroad in Indonesia, the Philippines, or the Great Barrier Reef near Australia. You’ll need to know how to scuba dive for many of these projects, but you can help with coral reef conservation byplanting new coral reefs, assisting with marine animal health and habitat preservation efforts, and cleaning marine environments. The best part is that you don’t need to be a scientist to help out. Anyone can become a marine conservation volunteer abroad orjoin NOAA efforts in the United States.

The NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is continuously expandingvolunteer opportunities. Students can even join programs that offer college credit and internships. You can get involved with whale identification, diving, water quality monitoring, wildlife monitoring, beach cleanups, field observation, and surveys, or help out in the visitors center.  

Why TropicSport?

At TropicSport we’re dedicated to creating effective, eco-friendly sunscreens that are good for the environment and provide extreme sun protection for your skin. JoinTropicSport in spreading awareness about how the ingredients in your sunscreen and skincare products can harm the coral reefs and marine life all over the world. And check out ourreef-friendly skincare collections today!

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