It's the highlight of any Caribbean vacation: being able to swim in the warm, clear waters of the Caribbean sea, to snorkel or dive among the lush coral reefs. All that may soon change off the coasts of Cancun, Mexico.
María del Carmen García Rivas, director of the Puerto Morelos Reefs National Park, said that the state of coral reefs in the Mexican Caribbean is critical and that any catastrophic event would be very serious.
The Mesoamerican Reef Barrier System is the second largest reef system in the world and it's a spot that has been popular with tourists for many years. One of the most popular tourist activities is snorkeling cruises on the reef.
Unfortunately, most tourists are unwittingly still using chemical based sunscreens when they go in the waters around Cancun. (In fact, each year an estimated 14,000 tons of sunscreen washes off swimmers and snorkelers into coral reef environments.) Chemicals such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octinoxate, parabens and nano-particles can be ingested by corals, damaging their DNA and contributing to coral bleaching. This occurs when the life-sustaining algae that normally lives on coral vanishes, due to changes in ocean temperatures, stress, or pollution. Eventually they die and crumble to dust on the ocean floor.
Coral bleaching events and diseases which kill the living tissue that is on coral have been spreading extremely fast in the Mexican Caribbean. Since 2018, it is estimated to have affected at least 20 out of the 45 species of coral that exist in Quintana Roo today.
In the Mexican Caribbean, the local authorities now find themselves forced to do something about this. At Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, one thing that they have tried is shutting down the park for a couple of months at a time to allow coral to rest and get a break from the stress.
It’s likely that tourists will see more protected coral reefs in the Mexican Caribbean in the future and that snorkeling and diving will be limited at least some of the time. Tourists can also expect a bigger focus on what they can do to help. Simple things like wearing mineral sunscreen, diving, snorkeling responsibly, and keeping the beaches clean can greatly impact protecting the reef system in Cancun.
If you're going into the water, you should always only use a water resistant, non-nano, mineral-based sunscreen.
EPO9 was formed four years ago by a collection of surfers, scuba divers, snorkelers, swimmers and outdoor enthusiasts who worship the sun but really care about, and want to protect, the oceans and marine environment which brings us so much joy. Eponine Labs, LLC was incorporated in June 2022. Its mission is to manufacture a sunscreen that is truly non-toxic to the marine eco-system and will afford the user the highest standard of skin protection from the sun's harmful UV rays.
People chose Coral Sure Sunscreen for its broad spectrum protection and non-toxic, moisturizing properties. Learn more at www.epo9coralsure.com