If you’ve been paying attention recently, you know how important it is to protect our oceans. Chances are, as an ocean lover, you probably are already doing your part by recycling, avoiding single-use plastics, eating only sustainable seafood, and volunteering for beach cleanups. But did you know that there’s an easy way to protect both yourself and the ocean you love?

rash guard

Ocean friendly sun protection is a new “hot topic” in marine conservation.

Prompted by observations of oil slicks in one of Mexico’s marine eco-parks after tourists entered the water, a study in 2008 found that sunscreen, like other ocean contaminants, contribute to coral bleaching. Since that study was published, there has been much debate about the extent of damage directly done via sunscreen vs. other runoff and pollutants like shampoo and other phosphates- but keeping our oceans as free as possible from chemical pollution is always a good idea. That being said, the benefits of using sun protection are clear- the Skin Cancer Foundation cites a study finding that regular sunscreen users reduced their incidence of melanoma by 50-73 percent!

To that end, Trilogy Excursions always offers complimentary Hawaiian Sol reef-safe sunscreen to guests snorkeling at Molokini and other coral reef sites in Maui Nui. Most sunscreens thought to be “reef safe” use physical blockers like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide rather than the chemicals Oxybenzone (benzophenone-3), Butylparaben, Octinoxate, and 4-methyl benzylidene camphor. These chemicals, in large quantities, have been thought to contribute to coral bleaching, and the health effects to humans are often debated.

Confused about all the chemical names and the debate concerning sunscreen, health, and the ocean?

The easiest way to protect yourself may be just putting on clothing to cover up during the hottest parts of the day. Rash guards are a great way to protect yourself and the ocean, and there’s no need to worry about reapplication, hard-to-reach spots, or stings from marine cnidarians (little planktonic critters that sometimes bloom in our tropical waters). Add a wide-brimmed hat to that outfit, and you’re both protected and stylish. You can purchase a rash guard on any Trilogy trip, or borrow a Trilogy wetsuit top at no charge.

No matter your choice, wearing reef-safe sun protection shows your support of ocean conservation and makes a stand to protect and preserve our reefs on a local level. Mahalo for your kokua and concern for our reefs, and we’ll see you out there in the crystal clear waters of Molokini!

maui shore boat