As Australians, we need to do our bit to help keep our stunning oceans, lakes, creeks and reefs clean! By conserving our waterways we can help protect native animals & plants and keep these spaces beautiful for future generations to enjoy! Here are a few tips from Aquastar that you can easily implement when you next visit a beach, reef or lake.

Wear reef-safe sunscreen

We all need to wear sunscreen when outside in the harsh Australian sun. Changing what sunscreen you wear is easy and can have a big impact on our coast. A study in 2015  estimated that 14,000 tons* of sunscreen are ending up in the world’s coral reefs per year, causing irreparable damage. Every lotion, spray & sunscreen will wash off in the water and can be very harmful to marine environments. Many sunscreens contain octinoxate (octyl methoxycinnamate) and oxybenzone, these chemicals are detrimental to our waterways. 

It’s easy to find sunscreen in your local grocery store that has either a sticker that says ‘reef-safe’ (double-check the ingredients) or a mineral-based sunscreen that has zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as the active ingredients. Be wary of aerosols and instead opt for water-resistant lotions or creams. Also for your safety try to visit beaches outside of peak UV hours (usually midday) and use clothes to cover up like hats & rash vests so that you only have to use sunscreen on exposed skin areas. 

Take your litter with you

Make sure you collect all of your rubbish when you leave the beach and put it in appropriate bins or take it home with you to put in a bin. Plastic & rubbish is constantly mistaken for food by birds & fish and can result in illness or death. Try not to take any glass to the beach as it is prone to shattering and broken glass can be dangerous and hard to clean up completely.

Pick up other people’s litter or organise an event

If you have some spare time and want to do something good with it, go down to your local beach with rubbish bags & gloves to clean up the beach. You can organise this as a fun event with friends & family and get some great positive feelings that you are helping our environment!

Don’t feed the animals

Wild animals around the beach are naturally supposed to find their own food. Being constantly fed fish & chips can decrease their ability to forage for their own food and change natural migration & feeding activities. Eating human food can also impact their health and make them too fat or ill.

Pick up your pet’s droppings

If you take your dog or cat down to the beach, make sure you pick up any droppings that they do in and around the water. Animals droppings that reach the water can affect marine life’s health. Also, try to stop them from chasing & catching wild birds & animals.

Be careful when looking at rock pools

We all love to explore around the rock pools but try not to touch or step on any fish or animals hiding in rock pools. Some animals hiding in the rock pools can also be dangerous to us like the blue-ringed octopus!

Know your laws

Make sure to check if you are going to a government Marine Protected Area and the rules that surround it. Also adhere to the signs around the area including areas where dogs are & aren’t allowed, where it is unsafe to climb or jump and protected vegetation areas. If you plan on fishing make sure you know your regulations and return undersized fish to the water as soon as possible. 

What helpful tips do you like to implement to help protect our marine environments?

*https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00244-015-0227-7