Travel with love

The rainforests of the sea: encouraging coral reef protection

Dive into the mesmerising  world beneath the ocean surface, where vibrant colours and incredible biodiversity paint the canvas of coral reefs. These underwater wonders aren't just playgrounds for scuba enthusiasts or picture-perfect holiday spots; their preservation is a big deal for the well-being of our planet.

Coral reefs, often called the "rainforests of the sea," cover less than 1% of the ocean floor and host 25% of all known marine species. Picture the dance of colourful fish and the gentle sway of coral polyps – the biodiversity in coral reefs is like an aquatic orchestra. They aren't just easy on the eyes; they're the backbone of marine life, crucial for the health of our oceans. [1]

But coral reefs aren't just beautiful: they're economic powerhouses. Around 400 million people bank on coral reef fisheries for their livelihoods and food. And let's not forget the tourism industry, thriving on the allure of these vibrant coral ecosystems.

Coral reefs act like superheroes, protecting coastlines from erosion and wild storms. So, their preservation isn't just about being eco-friendly; it's an economic no-brainer.

Why are coral reefs endangered?

Coral reef conservation has been a hot topic in recent years since many organisations raised awareness about this endangered ecosystem.

The global warming we’re experiencing is putting this magnificent ecosystem under threat, due to the fact the reef is very fragile. Temperature is, in fact, fundamental to determining coral health and survival, especially as thermal anomalies of just 1 °C lasting for more than a few weeks can cause bleaching. [2] In addition, up to 90% of reef-building corals could be lost by 2050, even if warming is limited to an increase of 1.5°C. [3]

Bleaching is one of the main issues when it comes to coral reefs. They have, in fact, a symbiotic relationship with microscopic algae that live in their tissues - almost like a condo. 

These algae are the coral’s food source and are the reason for their peculiar, vibrant colour. However, if stressed due to temperatures and pollution, algae leave the coral, leaving it bleached and vulnerable, depriving it of its source of nourishment. [4]

Modern technology is helping in the delicate mission to protect coral reefs. Thanks to 3D printing technology, it is now possible to study and mimic the anatomy of coral polyps, the tiny organisms responsible for building coral reefs.

Understanding the basic structure of coral polyps provides insights into how these organisms contribute to the formation and health of vibrant coral reefs. This can be used to teach about coral bleaching, their response to stress and temperature changes and raise awareness about the reasons to protect coral reefs. [5]

How to protect coral reefs: a joint effort

Preserving coral reefs is a team effort, and we can play a pivotal role in safeguarding these underwater wonders, not only during your holidays; it's a full-time gig that extends to our everyday lives.

Coral reef conservation doesn’t have to be an excuse to renounce amazing holidays to exotic destinations, such as an all-inclusive resort in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt, or a yoga retreat by the sea in Bali, Indonesia. We just need to adopt a behaviour that not only avoids threatening this fragile ecosystem but also contributes to restoring it.

Researching coral reef tourism impacts

Many hotels and organizations make a real effort in terms of sustainability and responsible practices and choosing them when planning our next adventure, it’s a first step toward sustainable tourism.

Let’s go for the ones that care about minimizing their environmental impact and educating visitors about coral reef conservation. And we don't have to ditch activities like snorkelling or diving if we practice them responsibly, ensuring coral reef protection.

And when we hit up those coral reef hotspots, better make time for experiences that show off the beauty of these ecosystems and shout out their conservation. For example, we can opt for tours with certified guides about protecting the reefs – it's like having a blast without leaving a trace, enjoying all the coral reef tourism benefits.

Our tip: We need to keep in mind that we should never touch or stand on delicate coral while exploring coral reefs, and maintain a safe distance from marine life to minimize our impact.

Invest in reef-safe sunscreen and products

Traditional sunscreens can be a bummer for coral reefs with all those harmful chemicals. About 14,000 tons of sunscreen wash into the oceans each year, causing coral bleaching, damaging the DNA of corals, and increasing abnormal growth and deformities.

Fortunately, there are many coral-approved options on the market. While some sunscreen says “coral safe” on the bottle we advise you carefully review the ingredients list to check. The most dangerous substances are:

  • Oxybenzone

  • Octinoxate

  • Octocrylene

  • Homosalate

  • 4-methylbenzylidene camphor

  • Parabens

  • Triclosan

We can also participate in petitions for local legislation that wants to ban the sale and use of toxic sunscreens. For example, in 2018, Hawaii passed the first-ever statewide ban on oxybenzone and octinoxate sunscreens; soon after, other island nations, including Palau, Bonaire, and Aruba, followed suit. [6]

Our tip: It is important to opt for reef-safe alternatives to keep your skin happy, and show some love to the marine ecosystem. Let’s spread awareness about the issue to friends, family, and fellow travellers to keep this virtuous circle going!

Reduce our carbon footprint

Climate change significantly threatens coral reefs, and even a small effort to reduce our carbon footprint can help protect this fragile ecosystem.

In our everyday lives, we can take many steps to be more efficient and sustainable. For example, we can choose energy-efficient home appliances and cut down on single-use plastics. And when we’re back home, balance out our travel vibes: we can volunteer to plant trees in the local park, participate in clean-up events, or adopt endangered species at a distance.

Our tip: There are organizations that let us "adopt" coral reefs from a distance so we can be part of the biodiversity-saving squad.

Encouraging responsible coral reef tourism

Coral reefs deal with some severe stress, thanks to climate change. Rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification, and wild weather events put our coral buddies in a tough spot. While rules have tamed the coral collectors, other behaviours remain to be adopted for coral reef health.

Coral reefs are not just jaw-dropping wonders; they're like the rockstars of our planet's health and prosperity. By getting why they're essential, making smart moves, and supporting initiatives that put their well-being first, we're securing a rad future for these underwater ecosystems.

At, we encourage you to get informed and become more sustainable daily with small steps and actions that can make a huge difference. From researching ocean conservation to reducing plastic pollution, learning how to protect our environment is a crucial mission we all need to pursue.

We don’t have to renounce snorkelling in Greece or Sharm el Sheikh, and we can still collect unforgettable memories while travelling and preserve this vibrant ecosystem for future generations.

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