On the left is normal coral; on the right is bleached coral after exposure to sunscreen
I see divers and snorkelers slathering on sunscreen every time I go out on the Sea Rovers’ boats. Since there are only a limited number of dive sites at Menjangan and here in Pemuteran, it really worries me about the impact these chemicals may be having on the reefs. Here are some excerpts from an article from National Geographic and PADI. Click on the links if you want to read them in full.
The sunscreen that you dutifully slather on before a swim on the beach may be protecting your body—but a new study finds that the chemicals are also killing coral reefs worldwide.
Four commonly found sunscreen ingredients can awaken dormant viruses in the symbiotic algae called zooxanthellae that live inside reef-building coral species. Even low levels of sunscreen, at or below the typical amount used by swimmers, could activate the algae viruses and completely bleach coral in just four days, the results showed.
The researchers estimate that 4,000 to 6,000 metric tons of sunscreen wash off swimmers annually in oceans worldwide, and that up to 10 percent of coral reefs are threatened by sunscreen-induced bleaching.
So what’s a diver (or snorkeler) to do?
When it comes to sunscreen, any natural product (organic, biodegradeable etc) is better for the environment then the conventional one. Look for a brand that uses physical sunblocks such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide instead of chemical ones.
Read the label. A product advertising itself as “reef safe” doesn’t necessarily mean what it says. Always look at ingredient lists to make sure reef-damaging substances (such as oxybenzone, butylparaben, octinoxate and 4-methylbenzylidine camphor, all of which have been shown to cause coral bleaching even at low levels) aren’t included.
Apply sunscreen at least 10-15 minutes before going in the water so that the lotion absorbs into your skin.
Now that you’re ready to make the switch to coral reef safe sunscreen (and human-safe), consider the 10 options below, all of which have a “1” rating from the EWG, and positive reviews from online consumers. The products below are not officially endorsed by PADI or Project AWARE; however, if you are reading this article in the United States and make a purchase by clicking a link below, a portion of your purchase will go to Project AWARE via the Amazon Associates program.
- Aubrey Organics Natural Sun Sunscreen, Sensitive Skin/Children, SPF 30+
- Badger Sunscreen Cream, Unscented, SPF 30
- UV Natural Sport Lip Sunscreen, SPF 30+
- Badger Broad Spectrum Sport Facestick, SPF 35
- ECO logical All Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+
- Elemental Herbs Sport Sunscreen, SPF 30+
- Green Screen D Organic Sunscreen, Original, SPF 35
- BurnOut Ocean Tested Physical Sunscreen, SPF 30
- Raw Elements USA Eco FormulaSPF 30
- All Terrain KidSport SPF30*
I wear a thin wetsuit or dive skin whenever I’m on the boat (I do have a noticeable tan line that starts at my wrists; I could wear my gloves if it becomes too unsightly). I try to sit in the shade, and if I can’t, I use a towel over my head to shield my face from the sun. A broad-brimmed hat would also protect your face.
Some of the world’s problems seem so big that there’s nothing we can do; consider making this small change to do your bit to protect our precious coral reefs.
Some fish change dramatically as they mature from the juvenile to intermediate to adult stage. Let the expert pirates at Sea Rovers help you check them off your bucket list.
Batfish / Spadefish (Platax pinnatus)
This is technically an intermediate phase since you can see stripes starting to form
Here’s the adult phase
Koran Angelfish (Pomacanthus semicirculatus)
Here is the stunning juvenile.
I don’t yet have a photo of the adult, but here’s one thanks to Wikipedia
Always a crowd-pleaser, everyone loves Nemo. Anemonefish is the more accurate name for these guys–although most folks just call them clownfish. There are more than 30 different species of anemonefish.
All of these photos were shot in Menjangan. Let the expert guides of Sea Rovers find some for you so you can delight your non-diving friends with your pics.
A pair of pink anemone fish in their purple-tipped anemone
False clownfish pair
In honor of World Oceans Day, I’d like to share my new website, Kat’s Ocean, with all of the Sea Rovers’ Brethren.
Thanks to my friend Lin Fronda back in the Cayman Islands who designed this logo 6 years ago–finally get to use it
The site is still a baby with lots of growing to do. I’ve never built a website before, so I’m still climbing a steep learning curve. You can learn more about me, my life in Bali and my diving adventures in the blog. I plan to expand the UW Photography Tips & Tricks section to perhaps offer courses and answer questions from registered users. There aren’t many pictures in the galleries yet; I have over 23,000 images going back to 2002 to sort through, so I hope you will keep coming back to check out what’s new (and what’s old).
Cap’n Paul bestowing C-card to Emma
Emma, a nurse from London, came to Pemuteran only to dive Temple Garden; but she leaves as an Advanced Open Water diver. Here are some photos from her course and training.
Captain Paul is going through the deep dive skills with Emma at 33 metres at Temple Garden
Emma ready to meditate or maybe she’s just narc’d next to a statue at Temple Garden
Emma likes the tiny critter that Abdul showed her
Emma expertly hovering next to a colorful orange sponge in Menjangan
A Hawksbill turtle resting in the sand at Eel Garden
It was a glorious day at Menjangan for both snorkelers and divers. Emma from London, who was completing her Advanced Open Water course, said these were her best two dives ever.
While taking in the dramatic walls at Eel Garden and Underwater Cave, we saw both bigger critters (giant frogfish, eels and some even saw a shark), and Abdul was busy pointing out tiny creatures like orangutan crabs and pygmy seahorses.
An amazing day was had by all. Come to NW Bali and join the pirates at Sea Rovers for your own ocean adventure!
2 of the 3 frogfish that were sitting on a big sponge
A shy zebra eel on the wall at Underwater Cave
Dive guide Abdul showing Emma a tiny orangutan crab
One of our snorkeling guests enjoying the reef
Captain Paul is taking Emma through the skills of the deep dive portion of her Advanced certification
Emma from London came to Sea Rovers to dive Temple Garden, and decided to go ahead and get her Advanced Open Water certification. Today she worked with Captain Paul starting with the deep dive, and later was slated to do her Navigation and Night dives at Mucky Pirates Bay. Tomorrow she will finish up at Menjangan.
Captain Paul and Emma are all OK at 33 meters
Emma in Lotus with Captain Paul in the background
Captain Paul posing next to a Buddha statue
The photo wench found lots of cooperative subjects on another long shore dive at Mucky Pirates Bay. Thanks to the pirates at Sea Rovers for providing shore support.
Here’s lookin at you kid
This is a juvenile angelfish who will look completely different when it grows up
This little bannerfish was busy trying to nibble at the jellyfish
These little puffers are so cute
One of the smaller false clownfish in the anemone under the pier
Meet the sand shrimpgoby
One of the joys of diving for me is learning about and trying to photograph behavior. Today’s photos are not really portfolio-worthy, but they show the interesting relationship between the sand shrimpgoby and the shrimp they share a home with.
These two creatures are symbiotic (meaning their interaction benefits both of them). The gobies stand guard while the shrimp plays “housekeeper” to their burrow, continually digging and cleaning out the sand. The Gobies will signal when predators are near. When I got too close, they both dashed back into the hole. The fish came back out first, followed by the shrimp a few moments later, then the housecleaning continued.
Here’s you can see the shrimp doing some housecleaning while the goby is on lookout
Another shot of the pair–all of the floating sand was brought out by the shrimp
Here’s a closeup of the goby’s face–looks like he has a mouth full of sand so I guess he shares in the cleaning chores