HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Sunscreen is a must-have at the beach to protect against the sun's harmful rays.
But a new report says while sunscreen might protect you, it's damaging the ocean's corals.
Ruth Gates, director of the Hawaii Institute for Marine Biology, says the report confirms what has widely been assumed -- that sunscreen can have damaging effects on reefs.
"It can damage the way they develop and it can kill them, or it can actually induce them to bleach," she said.
Gates says the chemicals not only directly damage the corals, but affect their ability to deal with climate change.
"It's a compounding effect. The temperature is not good right now, it's high. Corals are bleaching in response," she said. "You add on a pollutant like the ones found in sunscreen and what you end up with is a perfect storm."
The good news is there are sunscreens that don't include coral-damaging chemicals.
Gates said look for sunscreens that contain titanium oxide or zinc oxide.
Some tourist locations around the globe are already banning sunscreens with the coral-damaging chemicals. Gates said that's not only good for the environment, but it represents a marketing opportunity for businesses.
"Coral-safe sunscreen. Imagine if we could do that? It's not left open to choice or knowledge," she said.
Another option, Gates said, is foregoing sunscreen in favor of protective clothing.