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Reef safe sunscreen is a concern of divers around the world. This includes guests of Miguel’s Diving. Divers need to protect our skin from harmful ultra-violet rays but also to protect the marine environment from harmful chemicals.
Strategy One: Physical Barriers
Although various media sources highlight the need for reef safe sunscreen, we suggest another strategy first. Physical barriers provide much better protection against sun rays. Most divers already use a great barrier. We wear wet suits, which can cover skin from ankle to wrist. During surface intervals, divers usually open the top of their wet suits. Rather than coat your shoulders and arms with creams or sprays or oils, please wear a T-shirt.
Another must-have item besides reef safe sunscreen is a wide brim hat. This keeps sunlight from hitting your head where sunscreen cannot be applied. A wide brim helps shield a diver’s face and neck. Moreover, sunglasses with appropriate ultra-violet protection are a must for divers.
To assist in decreasing the need for our guests to use lots of sunscreen, each of our dive boats has a complete canvas top. Moreover, this would be considered another physical barrier.
Mineral blockers that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide coat the skin and reflect ultra-violet radiation off the skin. The media generally consider a mineral blocker to be reef safe.
Strategy Two: Reef Safe Sunscreen
Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing ultra-violet light and converting the radiation to heat. The two most harmful chemicals in sunscreen are oxybenzone and octinoxate. Research suggests that these could potentially harm marine life. Locations with high tourist volume are most affected.
Researchers estimate that up to six thousand tons of sunscreen wash into the ocean annually. In the United States, both Hawai’i and some Florida locations have banned the use of products containing these two ingredients. Gorontalo hosts very few tourists, which greatly helps to limit potential damage.
To avoid purchasing a product that is not a reef safe sunscreen, simply read the label. However, divers should recognize that scientists have not determined the definition of “reef safe.” That is why divers should use the first strategy of physical barriers. Then divers can apply sunscreen only on the face and hands. Dermatologists suggest that sunscreen should be applied every two hours. The first application should be before you enter the water. That way the sunscreen has time to dry on your skin rather than wash on immediately into the ocean.
Additionally, Miguel’s Diving requests that guests not use aerosol sunscreens onboard. Particles of these sprayed chemicals drift in the air onto the dive boat, other guests, and over the waters.
To dive with an operator dedicated to protecting Gorontalo’s marine environment, please make your dive reservations with Miguel’s Diving.