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.”
The Latest on: Coral reefs
via Google News
The Latest on: Coral reefs
- With world busy fighting coronavirus, China quietly builds installations on Philippine-claimed reefson March 23, 2020 at 9:26 pm
Specifically, new Chinese facilities in Fiery Cross are envisioned to monitor coral reef biomes or the island’s flora and fresh water conservation, while those in Subi Reef will house seismic ...
- Divers With Clean Seas Program Remove Tons Of Debris From Fragile Reefson March 23, 2020 at 1:11 pm
What started in the Florida Keys could go nationwide, and that’s a good thing. The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation is out with a report on the impact of marine debris cleanups as part of a ...
- Great Barrier Reef hit by third major bleaching event in five yearson March 23, 2020 at 12:53 pm
The Great Barrier Reef is experiencing its most widespread coral bleaching event, according to scientists who say record warm temperatures and warming oceans are threatening its fragile corals. The ...
- A new tool for identifying climate-adaptive coral reefson March 23, 2020 at 6:55 am
Climate change is threatening the world's coral reefs, and saving them all will prove impossible. A team from EPFL has developed a method for identifying corals with the greatest adaptive potential to ...
- Barrier reef watchers anxiously await evidence of coral bleaching from aerial surveyson March 22, 2020 at 12:32 pm
Planes will this week cover areas in the southern half of the reef that escaped earlier bleaching but may have undergone high levels of heat stress ...
- Coral reefs can act as allies to deal with storm surgeson March 20, 2020 at 3:06 pm
Many options exist for tackling the rise in sea levels. These range from engineering feats such as building seawalls or reclaiming land to restoring coastal habitats like mangroves. But coastal cities ...
- This fish is ‘king of the reef.’ But high-end diners may change that.on March 20, 2020 at 8:17 am
It’s the king of the coral reefs. The humphead wrasse, fittingly named for the bump on its head, can grow to six feet long, weigh up to 400 pounds, and live for 30 years. Also known as Napoleon ...
- Coral Morphologic Soundtracks 24/7 Reef Livestream to DJ Mixes by Jubilee, Nick León, and Otherson March 20, 2020 at 5:48 am
The art-science collective has recruited a handful of Miami DJs and Florida-raised creatives to contribute to its undersea livestream.
- Studying the world’s coral reefs, he finds dazzling beauty and serious scienceon March 20, 2020 at 5:11 am
A diver joins multitudes of fish swimming over a Gorgonian sea fan in a coral reef in Egypt’s Ras Mohammed National Park, a Red Sea marine reserve off the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, in ...
- Coral skeletons reveal the history of nitrogen cycling in the coastal Great Barrier Reefon March 20, 2020 at 3:06 am
Coastal pollution degrades ecosystems, but long term impacts are unknown in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Using a 333 year record of coral skeleton nitrogen isotopes, Erler and colleagues show that ...
via Bing News