Thailand bans sunscreens from all its marine national parks over damage to corals | Daily Current Affairs 2021

Thailand bans sunscreens from all its marine national parks over damage to corals

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Corals

Coral-Damaging Sunscreens: Thailand has banned sunscreens containing chemicals that damage coral from all of its marine national parks.

Key Details:

  • Concerns are that the slow-growing corals are being harmed by the lotions the tourists use for sun protection.
  • The banned lotions are those containing oxybenzone, octinoxate, 4-methyl benzylidene camphor, or butylparaben.
  • According to the Thai Department of Conservation, the four ingredients found in sun creams were destroying coral larvae, obstruct coral reproduction and cause reef bleaching.
  • A fine of 100,000 baht will be put on people violating the rule.
  • Similar bans have been introduced by the Pacific island of Palau and the US state of Hawaii.

About Coral Reef:

  • A coral reef is an underwater ecosystem characterized by reef-building corals.
  • Reefs are formed by colonies of coral polyps that are held together by calcium carbonate. Most of the reefs are built from stony corals, whose polyps cluster in groups.
  • Coral belongs to the class Anthozoa in the animal phylum Cnidaria. which includes sea anemones and jellyfish.
  • It comprises sea anemones and jellyfish. Corals secrete hard carbonate exoskeletons that support and protect the coral.
  • Most reefs grow best in warm, shallow, clear, sunny, and agitated water.
  • Corals are also called rainforests of the sea.
  • Shallow coral reefs form some of Earth’s most diverse ecosystems. 
  • Corals comprise less than 0.1% of the world’s ocean area.
  • They are commonly found at shallow depths in tropical waters.
  • In deep water and cold water, coral reefs exist on smaller scales.
  • The great Barrier Reef of Australia is the largest reef in the World.

Note: First-ever coral reefs appeared some 485 million years ago.

Why are Coral reefs under threat?

They are under threat from the following:

  1. Excess nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus),
  2. Rising temperatures,
  3. Oceanic acidification,
  4. Overfishing (e.g., from blast fishing, cyanide fishing, spearfishing on scuba),
  5. Use of sunscreen and harmful land-use practices,
  6. Runoff and seeps (e.g., from injection wells and cesspools).

How does coral bleaching occur?

  • Coral bleaching occurs when coral polyps expel algae that live inside their tissues living in their tissues which drain them of their vibrant colours. 
  • Normally, coral polyps live in an endosymbiotic relationship with these algae, which are crucial for the health of the coral and the reef.
  • The algae provide up to 90 percent of the coral’s energy.
  • Bleached corals continue to live but begin to starve after bleaching.
  • Coral may bleach for other reasons, like extremely low tides, pollution, or too much sunlight, dumping of dredging sludge, and cyclic population.

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