Reef Safe Sunscreen – What you need to know

Use reef safe sunscreen in Kona

REEF-SAFE SUNSCREEN: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

You may have seen a thing or two in the news recently regarding Hawaii’s ban on chemically based sunscreen. The state passed a bill that will prevent the sale of sunscreen containing common UV-filtering ingredients, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate. Why is this important? Because both have been linked to coral bleaching.  When guests are out snorkeling during one of our catamaran charters, we always encourage them to use Reef Safe sunscreen.

We know that reefs are suffering at the hands of global climate change due to rising ocean temperatures, as the stress of warm water causes corals to bleach. In addition, scientists now say that chemically based sunscreen can induce the same bleaching response in coral. Studies have shown that oxybenzone and octinoxate are found in over 3,500 sunscreen products, including household names like Tropicana, Banana Boat, and Coppertone. When corals absorb these chemicals, they have a similar reaction as they would if surrounding water temperatures were to get too warm. In addition, the presence of these chemicals in sea water allows viruses to thrive, putting corals at high risk of catching an infection that could lead to bleaching and death.

Areas such as Oahu’s Hanauma Bay off the coast of the Hawaii, sees close to a million tourists each year, which makes it highly susceptible to sunscreen-induced coral bleaching. In 2015, a nonprofit based out of St. John surveyed a popular beach on the island, estimating that with 2,000 to 5,000 swimmers using the beach daily, over 6,000 pounds of sunscreen would be deposited into the reef annually. And with tourists swimming, diving, and snorkeling on only a small portion of the world’s reefs, the pounds add up.

What can you do to help?

While there is still a lot of work to be done in order to save fragile coral reefs, our individual choice to purchase reef-safe sunscreen can be of huge help! And the good news is, there are plenty reef-safe options on the market for consumers to choose from.

WHEN YOU’RE SHOPPING FOR REEF SAFE SUNSCREEN, HERE ARE SOME KEY THINGS TO LOOK FOR:

The absence of oxybenzone and octinoxate in listed ingredients. These two chemicals are harmful to corals and can cause sunscreen-induced coral bleaching, so look for them in the ingredient list. Their absence points the product being reef-safe.

Mineral based sunscreen with the ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Sunscreens made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are mineral-based, so rather than being absorbed like traditional sunscreen, the particles of these ingredients sit on top of the skin and block harmful UV rays. These ingredients are less harmful to corals and are not linked to coral bleaching.

Indication that ingredients are “non-nano”. In order for mineral sunblocks to leave corals untouched, they must be “non-nano”, meaning the ingredient particles must be above 100 nanometers in size so that they cannot be ingested by corals.

Reef-safe sunscreen labels. Typically companies will label their products as “reef-safe” but always check the ingredients to be sure.

Swimming With Wild Dolphins in Kona – why we don’t

Six Reasons Why We Don’t Swim with Wild Spinner Dolphins

Would you swim with wild spinner dolphins if you knew that they were trying to sleep?

When we are out on a sailing charter we always enjoy seeing wild Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins.  When we are lucky enough to cross paths with them, we always try to respect these beautiful creatures and avoid anything that might be considered harassment under the law.  The following list of reasons to avoid swimming with wild dolphins is from the NOAA web site.

Two spinner dolphins jumping out of the water.
  1. Swimming with wild spinner dolphins when they are close to shore during the day could be disturbing their rest and potentially harming them. Wild spinner dolphins feed off-shore at night and return to sheltered bays and coastlines during the day to rest, socialize, tend to their young, and avoid predators. Any energy used towards responding to human activity–even if they appear to just be curious and enjoy the interaction—is energy not being used for these behaviors that are critical for survival. When their rest is interrupted, especially if it happens many times in a day, it can affect their health and well-being.

    Spinner dolphin daily life from morning to night illustration.

     

  2. Swimming with resting spinner dolphins may constitute “harassment” under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance that has the potential to disrupt a marine mammal’s behavior is “harassment” under this Act and is, therefore, against the law.

    Snorkeler swimming with dolphins.

    Photo courtesy: Julian Tyne, PhD.

  3. Human interactions with wild spinner dolphins may affect their behavior and the reproductive success of the dolphins.

    750x500-spinner-dolphin-close-interaction-by-people-NOAA-PIFSC.jpg

  4. Although spinner dolphins may not appear to be sleeping when you see them in near-shore waters, they often are. Spinner dolphins have to move and breathe while resting and therefore swim slowly and occasionally surface for air while allowing half their brain to sleep at a time. It is important to stay back and give them enough space (at least 50 yards/45 meters) and not swim with them so that they can get enough sleep to survive.

    750x500-group-of-swimming-spinner-dolphins-NOAA-PIFSC.jpg

     

  5. If spinner dolphins are regularly disturbed while in their nearshore resting habitat, they may be forced to move to a another location that’s less protected, putting themselves at risk from predators like sharks. They may also be forced to use more energy to reach this location,” energy that would otherwise be used to breed, nurse, and take care of their young. Hawaiian spinner dolphins choose certain sheltered, sandy bottom areas to rest because they are close to their feeding sites and the white sand background makes it easier for them to see predators.

    Group of swimming spinner dolphins underwater.

     

  6. Wild dolphins must maintain natural behaviors to thrive in the wild. The wild dolphins you encounter are not trained dolphins in an aquarium. Although dolphins are naturally curious, their curiosity should not be misinterpreted as “friendly” behavior. If a dolphin approaches you in the water, do not engage, follow, or otherwise interact with the animal. Allow it to pass by undisturbed and maintain its natural behaviors.

Information curtesy of NOAA

Fun things to do while Sailing Big Island

Sailing Big Island

The Big Island of Hawaii is a great place to go sailing.  Whether you are a seasoned sailor or just a beginner along for the ride, you are sure to love sailing Big Island. Most of the sailing charters on the island of Hawaii sail along the west coast near Kailua Kona. The west side is the leeward side of the island and offers sunny weather and calm waters which are protected from the prevailing wind and seas that come from the North East. These are ideal conditions for sailing, snorkeling, SCUBA diving, dolphin and whale watching. There are so many fun things to do while sailing along the Kona coast. Here’s some of our favorites.

Dolphin Watchingsailing with dolphins in Kona

Dolphins always make us smile and we see plenty of them along the Kona coast. There are numerous resident pods of Hawaiian Spinner dolphins roaming the leeward coast of the Big Island. They are often close to shore in the morning when they are resting and socializing. It is in the morning when we usually see them. Often they will swim right up to the boat while we’re sailing and swim with the bow and play in our wake. In the evening they head to deep water to hunt. Once in a great while we will also see them during a sunset cruise off-shore.

 

Help sail the boatsailing big island hands on

On our 36′ sailing catamaran, Kolea, we often have our guests help sail the boat. Adults and kids alike enjoy helping to raise the sails and taking the helm, and we enjoy teaching them the basics of sailing. There is just something magical about shutting off the engines and using only the wind to move the boat.

 

 

 

Snorkeling

Kailua Kona Snorkeling

The protected waters of the Big Island’s leeward side offer numerous bays to stop and snorkel. It’s hard to beat the convenience of snorkeling from a catamaran while anchored in one of these bays. You can jump right in to the warm, pristine waters without having to climb over rocks and worry about stepping on sea urchins near the shore. Back on the boat you can rinse off the salt with a warm fresh water shower, then lounge on the trampolines up on the bow.

 

 

 

 

 anchored catamaran KoleaAnchor in a secluded bay

Sailing is a great way to get away from it all. Here on the big island, there are still some secluded beaches that remain undeveloped and haven’t been spoiled by hotels and houses. When time allows, it’s always a special treat to sail to one of these secluded bays, drop anchor, and just enjoy the tranquility.

 

 

 

Whale Watchingsailing with whales in Hawaii

During the winter months, Hawaii becomes home to the North Pacific Humpback Whales. Their annual migration takes them from Alaska to Hawaii (among other places). If you happen to be sailing the Big Island between December and March, there is a very good chance you will see these gentle giants of the sea.
To learn more about Humpback Whales, check out LoveBigIsland.com’s very informative page about Whale Watching on the Big Island.

 

 

 

 

sunset sailing cruise big islandWatch the Sunset under Sail

What better way to watch the sunset than from the deck of a quiet sailboat under full sail. The sound of the ocean lapping up against the hull is so soothing. It’s a great time to just relax with a drink and soak up the conclusion to another day in paradise.

 

 

 

 

Whether you take a cruise on a shared boat or book a private sailing charter, there are lots of fun things to do while sailing Big Island. With a small, family owned and operated company like Paradise Sailing Hawaii, you will have the flexibility to do the activities that appeal to you most. It’s all waiting for you in Kailua Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island.

Written by Capt Eric Wakely

 

Paradise Sailing Hawaii, 74-380 Kealakehe Pkwy, Slip J24, , Kailua Kona, HI 96740, United States (US) - Phone: (808) 883-0399