As News 6 dives into the problems affecting Florida waterways, we know you want to hear about how you can help save our diverse ecosystems.
This summer, the governor of Hawaii signed the first bill in the U.S. that will ban certain sunscreens to protect coral reefs.
With millions of visitors a year enjoying Florida beaches, could the SPF being applied to protect our skin, be affecting hundreds of miles of the Florida Reef Tract?
There are two ingredients in sunscreen that are the subject of Hawaii's ban: oxybenzone and octinoxate.
The Coral Reef Conservation Program, in partnership with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, advises divers and swimmers to avoid sunscreens with oxybenzone and avobenzone. Their research states that these compounds can be lethal to coral reproduction.
There is no law in Florida against these chemicals, but if this concerns you, look for sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as alternatives. You can also protect your skin from the sun using physical barriers, like sun-protective clothing.
Reef Ambassadors with the Coral Reef Conservation Program also urge divers to clean gear to prevent the spread of coral disease. Non-ionic detergents or soaps are good after diving, and a diluted bleach wash can be used on equipment at home.