June 1 is World Reef Awareness Day

World Reef Awareness Day is a call to action for consumers, businesses, and organizations to reflect on the delicate ecosystem of our ocean’s coral reefs.

Coral reefs are living communities of colonial organism made of individual polyps that excrete a bone-like skeleton. This skeleton forms large rock-like structures that are homes for thousands of organisms.

The health of a reef tells us a lot about the health of an ocean. Many fish and ocean animals rely on the protection of the healthy, living reef for spawning season. The reef provides more than protection; it also supplies a rich, thriving food chain. From plankton and algae to the largest sea creatures, the reef ecosystem is a significant life support system.

The benefits of a healthy reef ecosystem go far beyond the ocean as it is essential to plant and fish-life which in turn contributes to a lively fishing industry. Reefs also act as the oceans filter and protects our beaches and coastline from erosion which we appreciate. But, did you know that reefs can supply us with life-saving medicines? How about being the one animal on the planet capable of consuming plastic?

In recent years, our most productive reefs have been in decline due to coral bleaching. For example, the Great Barrier Reef decreased by 40 percent. It’s even worse along the Florida Keys and Caribbean, where decline is between 85 to 99 percent! According to Dr. Craig Downs, Executive Director of Haereticus Environmental Lab, about 90 percent of the reefs in the Caribbean have disappeared since 1980.

Coral reefs to die off due to a variety of factors that can include the rising sea temperatures; pollution and sewage; chemical sunscreens and, unfortunately, unmanaged, high-density tourism—all of these pose a threat to coral reefs.

One easy step everyone can take to protect these precious resources is by wearing non-nano zinc oxide sunscreen. According to Dr. Craig Downs, “When ingredients are uncoated and nano-size (less than 100 nanometers in diameter), they can enter the cells of invertebrates and fish and cause tissue damage, stressing all these marine organisms. Your best bet is to go for non-nano zinc oxide larger than 150 nanometers. At that point, the acute toxicity drops off, and the impact to ecosystems is mitigated”

I personally only use reef safe formulations and I love the one we use that goes on clear— Sun Shades Mineral Plus. It comes in two formulations: a sunscreen cream and a spray on sunscreen, both use naturally-derived micronized zinc oxide to provide a high level of broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection that is water and sweat resistant.  The cream dries clear and prevents moisture loss. It also combines a rich blend of natural, free-radical-fighting vitamins and antioxidants. The spray sunscreen is quick and easy to apply; is ultra waterproof; has a vitamin and botanical blend that is great for sensitive skin. and provides great protection. Not only are we  protected and out enjoying the sun all summer long, we are taking part in helping preserve the coral reefs.

Enter the World Reef Day sweepstakes to win a trip for 4 to Hawaii with reef-focused experiences – sweepstakes ends 6/2/19 at 11:59 pm

For more information, visit www.worldreefday.org

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