Coral-Damaging Sunscreens: Thailand has banned sunscreens containing chemicals that damage coral from all of its marine national parks.
- 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:
- Excess nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus),
- Rising temperatures,
- Oceanic acidification,
- Overfishing (e.g., from blast fishing, cyanide fishing, spearfishing on scuba),
- Use of sunscreen and harmful land-use practices,
- 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.