Lathering up with sunscreen may prevent sunburn and protect against cancer, but it is also killing coral reefs around the world.
That’s the conclusion of a team of international scientists, which includes University of Central Florida professor and diving enthusiast John Fauth.
The researchers found that oxybenzone, a common UV-filtering compound, is in high concentrations in the waters around the more popular coral reefs in Hawaii, and the Caribbean. The chemical not only kills the coral, it causes DNA damage in adults and deforms the DNA in coral in the larval stage, making it unlikely they can develop properly. The highest concentrations of oxybenzone were found in reefs most popular with tourists.
“Coral reefs are the world’s most productive marine ecosystems and support commercial and recreational fisheries and tourism,” Fauth said. “In addition, reefs protect coastlines from storm surge. Worldwide, the total value of coral reefs is tremendous. And they are in danger.”
The team’s findings are published in today’s edition of the journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.
Executive director and researcher Craig Downs of the non-profit scientific organization Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Virginia led the team. The scientists collected samples from reefs in Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Eilat, Israel diving into the water themselves. They wore no personal hygiene products during the dives.
“The use of oxybenzone-containing products needs to be seriously deliberated in islands and areas where coral reef conservation is a critical issue,” Downs said. “We have lost at least 80 percent of the coral reefs in the Caribbean. Any small effort to reduce oxybenzone pollution could mean that a coral reef survives a long, hot summer, or that a degraded area recovers. Everyone wants to build coral nurseries for reef restoration, but this will achieve little if the factors that originally killed off the reef remain or intensify in the environment.”
In laboratory experiments, the team exposed coral larvae and cells of adult corals to increasing concentrations of oxybenzone. The research team discovered that oxybenzone deforms coral larvae by trapping them in their own skeleton, making then unable to float with currents and disperse.
Oxybenzone also caused coral bleaching, which is a prime cause of coral mortality worldwide. Corals bleach when they lose or expel the algae that normally live inside them, thus losing a valuable source of nutrition. In addition, coral larvae exposed to increasing oxybenzone concentrations suffered more DNA damage.
Cells from seven species of corals were killed by oxybenzone at concentrations similar to those detected in ocean water samples. Three of the species that the researchers tested are currently listed as threatened under the US Endangered Species Act.
The team concluded in the published paper that “Oxybenzone poses a hazard to coral reef conservation, and threatens the resiliency of coral reefs to climate change.”
Read more: Lathering Up with Sunscreen May Protect Against Cancer – Killing Coral Reefs Worldwide
The Latest on: Coral reefs
[google_news title=”” keyword=”Coral reefs” num_posts=”10″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]
via Google News
The Latest on: Coral reefs
- Red Sea epidemic kills off sea urchins, imperilling coralon May 28, 2023 at 8:50 am
A deadly epidemic that is spreading through the Red Sea has killed off an entire species of sea urchin in the Gulf of Aqaba, imperilling ...
- The splendor of Tubbataha Reefson May 28, 2023 at 3:10 am
Located right in the middle of Sulu Sea, the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is a marine and bird sanctuary consisting ...
- ‘This Is Gold’: An Unprecedented Push To Restore Urban Honolulu Watersheds From Ridge To Reefon May 28, 2023 at 3:01 am
A nearly $8 million project will take the Hawaiian approach to land management and apply it to busy parts of town.
- Contest Alert: Win This Trip To Restore Coral Reefs In Indonesiaon May 27, 2023 at 5:07 pm
Want to be a coral reef influencer and see for yourself how to restore coral on the SHEBA Hope Reef in Indonesia? Enter this free trip contest before June 2, 2023.
- Results are in. Coral Reef softball standout voted Dade High School Athlete of the Weekon May 27, 2023 at 8:29 am
Coral Reef softball standout Rachel Hawkins is the Dade High School Athlete of the Week, as voted on by readers in our weekly poll. Hawkins, a junior, went 2 for 2 with a home run and four RBI to ...
- Massive sea urchin die-off in Israeli gulf threatens nearby coral reefs, researchers sayon May 27, 2023 at 6:59 am
Coral reefs in the Red Sea near Israel may be under threat as black sea urchins, a species critical to maintaining a healthy reef habitat, are dying off at an alarming rate.
- How hearty corals near Port Miami could help Florida’s reefs adapt to climate changeon May 26, 2023 at 11:26 am
Urban coral that have thrived near bustling Port Miami — despite ship traffic churning up pollution and bay bottom — are more resilient than their cousins along Florida’s reef, a new study from the ...
- The Coral Rehabilitation Project Reviving the Maldives Reefson May 24, 2023 at 6:55 am
The Maldives islands are home to more than a thousand coral reefs, vibrant ecosystems that provide a home for marine life.
- Mass mortality of sea urchins threatens to destroy Eilat coral reefon May 23, 2023 at 7:58 pm
“The mass mortality of sea urchins in the Mediterranean Sea has spread to the Gulf of Eilat and threatens to destroy the coral reef,” a Tel Aviv University research team, led by Dr. Omri Bronstein, ...
- Swift, deadly epidemic kills all the black sea urchins in Gulf of Eilat, posing threat to Eilat's coral reefon May 23, 2023 at 2:00 pm
A series of new, disturbing studies from Tel Aviv University reveals a deadly epidemic causing mass mortality of black sea urchins in the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Eilat. The entire population ...
via Bing News