New research confirms that substance in product harms corals in many different ways
The importance of coral goes far beyond its beauty that delights divers. It is in the shelter of the reefs that a quarter of the fish that live in the oceans spend their first days. This kind of natural motherhood is being threatened on all sides: Global warming has always been the main villain, but a recently published study puts its finger on another wound - and it is smeared with sunscreen.
Oxybenzone, a chemical present in the product, harms corals in almost every conceivable way: it impairs their growth, damages their DNA and contributes to coral bleaching - when this occurs the coral loses its living color and calcium surface. White is exposed, a sign that zooxanthellae, the unicellular algae responsible for coral feeding, are dying.
Corals that go through the bleaching process look sick - phenomenon is stimulated by sunscreen
As if that were not enough, the seedlings, coral larvae that have the characteristic of wandering around the ocean, can get stuck to the skeleton itself, disrupting the reproductive cycle of the species. According to research, oxybenzone "transforms seedling mobility into something deformed and static."
Approximately 14,000 tons of sunscreen are poured into the corals every year. Anyone who uses oxybenzone-containing cosmetics but does not usually go to the beach may also be contributing to this ongoing massacre, as bathing substances, for example, end up in the sea one way or another. The researchers say that a single drop of sunscreen in a volume of water equivalent to six Olympic swimming pools could already start a process of declining a healthy colony.