Using a common sunscreen while paddleboarding on St. John you may be unknowingly contributing to the deaths of coral reefs around the world, according to a new study conducted on St. John and Hawaii.

Sunscreen that sloughs off Stand Up Paddlers and swimmers or travels in wastewater from nearby sinks and showers is toxic to coral, and inhibits the growth of new coral that keeps reefs going, says a group of scientists from several institutions.

Global coral reef loss is happening all over the world. The study’s lead researcher, Craig Downs, told CNBC that the Caribbean has lost 80 percent of its coral reefs in the last 50 years. The loss of the reefs threatens local ecosystems, but also fishing and tourism industries.

They found oxybenzone is toxic to coral even at extremely low concentrations of 65 parts per trillion, roughly equal to the ratio of a single drop to 6.5 Olympic-size swimming pools, Downs said. The young coral were deformed and died off before being able to mature and replenish the reefs. They also found that it damages coral DNA, and may make coral more vulnerable to bleaching.

The researchers noted concentrations of oxybenzone several times above the threshold in several areas — the highest concentration was 1,400,000 parts per trillion in Trunk Bay, one of the most popluar and most crowded beaches in U.S. Virgin Islands National Park. Concentrations in Hawaii ranged from 800 parts per trillion to 19,000 parts per trillion.

Read the full article

What can you do?

Check the label of your sunscreen to see if it contains oxybenzone. If it does, replace it by a reef safe suncreen.

Order online before your trip

Or buy at Sup-St.John / on St. John

  • We have coral safe sunscreen from test winner Mexican on our boat and in our board delivery jeep. You can buy a bottle for 15$ instead of 17.95$ official retail price. There also is a face stick, which is 9.00$ and after sun Aloe Vera for 10.00$ and a DEET free bug spray for 12.00$.