Reef Safe Suncare Products Found To Be Safe For Corals

Tropical Seas' Reef Safe Suncare products will soon be available in bio-safe bottles.
Tropical Seas' Reef Safe Suncare products will soon be available in bio-safe bottles.

Looks like there’s at least one sunscreen that won’t damage coral reefs.

When Tropical Seas began production last month on packaging the company’s Reef Safe SunCare products in new, plant-derived bio-resin bottles, they didn’t exactly rest on their laurels.

Instead, Tropical Seas took the next step and had their products tested to see if the chemicals in those products were in any way harmful to reefs.

Testing by the Mote Marine Tropical Research Laboratory in Florida found that the company’s formulas “showed no visual signs of stress, bleaching or mortality to corals at any level of sunscreen treatment over periods 24 hours, 96 hours and 20 days.”

Tropical Seas President and CEO Dan Knorr said:

“Coral Reefs have been subjected to damage over the past decades, and one of the supposed contributing factors is the effect that sunscreen chemicals have on the health of corals. This test was designed to simulate conditions found at coral reef sites impacted by large volumes of swimmers, snorkelers and scuba divers, all using Reef Safe formulated sunscreens, which include oxybenzone as one of the active ingredients. However, with Reef Safe, it’s not just about the ingredients; it’s about how those ingredients are processed. Further testing included simulating snorkel boats with the equivalent of 2,984 snorkelers wearing Reef Safe formulas battering the reef twice a day.”

The lab tested Reef Safe’s SPF 50, SPF 45 and SPF 30 (no oxybenzone) formulas against hard corals that were representative of inshore and offshore habitats. About 100 coral fragments were distributed equally between 20 tanks with five of each species in a given 20-liter aquarium.

Tropical Seas says that all tanks were placed in the laboratory’s temperature-controlled raceway and supplied filtered seawater at a temperature of 80.6 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius) under natural light conditions. Before starting the test, scientists visually inspected each fragment to evaluate the health of the corals, to be compared up to 20 days or the completion of the study.

The Mote scientists visually assessed all corals using a coral health code established by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

For more info, check out the Reef Safe Suncare website.

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John Liang
John Liang is the News Editor at He first got the diving bug while in High School in Cairo, Egypt, where he earned his PADI Open Water Diver certification in the Red Sea off the Sinai Peninsula. Since then, John has dived in a volcanic lake in Guatemala, among white-tipped sharks off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and other places including a pool in Las Vegas helping to break the world record for the largest underwater press conference.

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