your sunscreen is killing coral


I used to wade into the water at Assateague Is. VA covered in layers of sunscreen and DEET to ward off the dozens of species of tiny bloodsucking vampires, and to survive what is basically a desert with an ocean view.

I had read the labels that indicated that DEEt was harmful to fish.

Oh well, it’s diluted, right?

Now this…

I don’t use much sunscreen, or DEET anymore.

I use clothes.

One of the Longship Company captains grew up in southern Maryland and that’s what they did, wear clothes to ward off sun and bugs. My dad did the same thing back in the dark ages.

Kayaking is, no matter what they try to tell you, a wet sport. the point is to fall out of the boat and get wet in the summer heat.

This tends to wash off sunscreen, and make it hard to reapply.

When I was scuba diving, I discovered that comic book trope of the spandex supersuit is good for something, despite Spiderman’s grumbling about spandex.

It is sunproof, and will ward off stinging things like jellies and corals, and keep some tiny swimmy things out of your swimsuit.

It does not wash off.

It looks cool.

Keep it wet and it is cool.


The diveskin… or those rashguard surfer shirts… is sleek and easy to swim in. It also fits under a wetsuit and makes it easier to struggle into.

If you’re worried about your butt’s shape, it’ll be hidden in your kayak anyway, or underwater. Or you can add shorts.

I see more and more kids using surfer shirts, or mini versions of diveskins. Cool. Less sunscreen in the water, less sunburn on your kid. (my cousin’s kids are blond and very very blond, aka albino, so hats and surfer shirts are a thing).

Spandex active wear works too. I found some fabulous stuff at thrift shops.

Australian researchers are also working to develop a sunscreen based on a natural ultraviolet-blocking compound found in coral.

There are some “ocean friendly sunscreens” on the market already. You can research those… or just visit your local dive shop or get some surfer gear.


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