Dr. Beach names Haunama Bay the #1 beach in this year’s Dr Beach Top 10 Beaches in America. What is unfortunate is that the corals at Haunama are dead. While in Mexico marine reserves restrict toxic sunscreens that damage corals, in Hawaii there are no such restrictions (shocking considering Haunama is touted as a “Nature Preserve”). There is a serious die-off of corals occurring right now in Hawaii that correlates specifically to sunscreen usage. Exposés like this encourage an increase of tourists to specific areas and will stress the environment even more.
Dr. Beach (self-proclaimed as “America’s Foremost Beach Expert) should use the health of the waters, corals, sea life as part of his criteria to rating the health of beaches before sand softness and smoking. [Read his criteria here] If there’s no testing for toxins, carcinogens, hormone disruptors like oxybenzone, octocrylene, octinoxate, avobenzone on the sand and in the water, these beach sand and water quality tests are not really complete.
We can rarely go to Hawai’i beaches during the summer (or winter or spring break for that matter) without getting bombarded by tourists gooping and spraying these chemicals. How can a beach be “the best beach” when they are now crowded with tourists blasting atomized carcinogens into the lungs of everyone in the vicinity. If you don’t breath this stuff in, you’re likely swimming in it, as most formulations come right off in the water (that nice rainbow sheen) and the kids are playing in it while building their sandcastles.
It’s been shown that these chemicals don’t just kill the corals, but they create an environment antithetical to their existence. That’s because they destroy DNA and affect hormones (yes, they do similar things to you and your children). Studies have shown that if the water conditions are overwhelmed by these chemicals (which doesn’t take a lot – about one drop per Olympic-sized swimming pool), baby corals can not grow. So whether the coral died because of the chemicals or because these beaches are now overwhelmed with tourists trampling and manhandling the corals, efforts to regrow or transplant them often fail.
Dr. Beach, we love that you appreciate Hawai’i beaches (two in fact made the list this year), but you should balance these announcements by using your platform to help educate about eco safe / reef safe sunscreen. We need to change our approach to UV protection, and use products that are safe for us and the environment. If beach-lovers don’t wake up, their going to inundate these amazing places with their toxic sunscreens and tax the ecosystems to their limits. As far as we’re concerned, that doesn’t make for a nice beach.