When choosing a sunscreen we usually look for an SPF number, water resistance, PA rating, etc. However, we often fail to consider how the products used affect oceans and the fragile coral reefs in particular. Scientists have discovered that an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 metric tons of sunscreen rinses off of swimmers every year and, as a result, up to 10 percent of coral reefs are threatened by sunscreen induced bleaching due to the chemical Oxybenzone in almost all sunscreens today. The Cook Islands beloved coral reefs, home to vibrant, colourful fish and other sea creatures are being poisoned and turning white as a result of dying from Oxybenzone poisoning.
Oxybenzone specifically aggravates coral, causing it to exude its natural nutrients and minerals, providing a hazardous and desolate environment for the marine life, harming their population. Although this is not the worst problem that coral is facing, it is relatively easy to fix. Hawaii has recently put a ban on the sale of sunscreens which contain Oxybenzone and although the Cook Islands have not yet done this, Pacific Resort Hotel Group (PRHG) wants to do its part to help protect the beautiful lagoon by encouraging all guests to use Reef Safe Sunscreen. For those who have not brought their own from home, it is available for purchase on the island from various stores and pharmacies.
Environmental issues are important to the hotel group given that all properties are situated on a fragile lagoon on an island in the middle of the South Pacific. PRHG’s focus is to ensure that its overarching vision, policies and operational procedures mitigate the environmental impact on these fragile ecosystems.
When out and about in the water or discovering the delights of the islands, please ensure to use oxybenzone-free sunscreen… this will help keep the famous Cook Islands coral and reefs healthy and looking fabulous for all visitors and those who call it home.