Thailand is home to some of the most famous (and highly visited) coral reefs in the world. If you’ve been lucky enough to witness the dive-worthy area before, you may have even learned a bit about the coral and how it’s changed over the years.
In a nutshell, coral can actually bleach or die off when certain contaminants are introduced to the water. One of the top culprits? Sunscreen.
In some cases, the sunscreen-related contamination is so bad that areas have had to be closed to the public to recover. Maya Bay (as seen in ‘The Beach’) was closed in 2018 for this very reason.
In light of this, Thailand has made some changes to their coral-visiting rules. So if you’re planning a diving trip to Thailand soon, here’s what you need to know.
Thailand’s New Sunscreen Rules
Sunscreen is essential in any tropical traveller’s bag, however, not all sunscreens are made the same. If you’re on your way to Thailand, you may be facing a fine if you’ve picked up the wrong one!
That’s right, Thailand’s marine parks now have a reef-safe sunscreen rule in place. Woohoo! This new rule has been set to help protect the coral from those pesky ingredients found in sunscreen that are bleaching the coral’s beautiful colours.
While the parameters around how this will be enforced aren’t yet clear, the consequences certainly are.
Getting caught with a non-reef-safe sunscreen will earn you a fine of 100,000 baht. In AUD this converts to just over $4,200. Now that’s a reef-protecting amount!
Why is Sunscreen Dangerous to the Reef?
Of course, many who breach this rule may actually be doing so without knowing.
Many of the sunscreens available at the chemist contain ingredients such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, 4-methyl benzylidene camphor, or butylparaben. While these ingredients are incredibly common, they are far from safe and have made their way onto Thailand’s list of banned lotions.
These specific ingredients have been proven to damage the reef and contaminate the water.
If reading sunscreen labels intimidates you, your best bet is to look for ‘reef-safe’ on the front! While not all reef-safe sunscreens are chemical-free, they do leave out these banned ingredients for a safer swim.
If you’re after a sunscreen that’s safe for the reef, your skin, and our planet, our favourites include Sunbutter or Sunslayer, both proudly available right here on the site!
Reef-Safe Sunscreen for the Win!
As Thailand joins Hawaii, Palau, the US Virgin Islands, and Aruba on their ban against coral-destroying sunscreens, we can’t help but wonder why reef-safe isn’t the only option around the world.
Of course, we all have the power to make this happen by simply voting with our dollar and choosing reef-safe sunscreens no matter the destination!
Ready to hear more great news about the planet-saving rules popping up around the world? Check out our Happy Earth News blog and celebrate these good news rules with us!