Protecting Our Reefs

Coral Reef Safe Excursion

We've aligned our snorkel excursions to be Coral Reef Safe. What this means is that we have organized a short but important training that explains:

(1) The damage that has been happening around the world
(2) Current efforts to restore
(3) What you can do to help the effort

Protecting Our Reefs

Our coral reefs are amazing and beautiful exploration opportunity. While they are teaming with life, they also have a delicate balance to their existence. Lately many reefs have been struggling from a combination of disease, pollution, and environmental change. While destruction from hurricanes and disease are naturally occurring events, they can still have a significant impact on the reef taking years to recover.

Pollution from sunscreen is one of the biggest culprits to damaging these delicate ecosystems. Sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate are the biggest concern, however there is more to the story. Even when a sunscreen is labeled “Reef Safe” it may not be completely true. There is currently no standard definition for what “Reef Safe” means.

An estimated 14,000 tons of sunscreen wash into reefs around the globe each year. Research is finding the highest concentrations around dive, snorkel, and swim spots. Research by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that these toxins weaken or stress the immune systems of the coral. In turn, it can lead to bleaching, a disease that strips color out of the coral.

The Research

Ocean temperatures above 81.7° F (31 °C) usually cause bleaching. When oxybenezone is present, the coral bleach at 78° F. So climate change along with sunscreen are two issues that when combined further undermine coral from thriving.

In 2015 Research by Haereticus Environmental Laboratory conducted testing at different reefs around Hawaii and the USVI. Trunk Bay, on St. John, USVI was found to have the highest concentration of oxybenzone at 1.4 parts per million. They also toxicity effect in concentrations as low as 62 parts per trillion.

We also reach the limits of what science knows, meaning if there has been no research on a particular sunscreen ingredient to prove it is safe or unsafe for the reef, then does this mean it is safe? In other words, ignorance of the law is not excuse.

Concentration of the ingredient in the area is also an important factor. Even in low concentrations, the sunscreen ingredients can have an impact on the marine life. Less harmful options include mineral based sunscreens. Here is a great article on reef safe sunscreen by Consumer Reports.

How to Protect The Reef

So, how do we do to protect ourselves and our environment? First step is to focus on dressing appropriately. Clothing can do a lot to protect our skin from the sun. It is also inert and doesn’t wash off. We are not advocating for full body coverage, but whatever is covered by clothing also doesn’t require sunscreen. Second, minimal sunscreen for those areas not covered. Last, choose a sunscreen that is environmentally friendly. Below are some sunscreen products that are coral reef safe, you can order directly from Amazon.


Think Sport


Blue Lizard

All Good - Kids

What We Do

In an effort to reduce the environmental impact of our excursions, we’ve established a program to:

  1. We work with all clients to help them make informed decisions on sunscreen selection
  2. All our boats have sunscreen that is known to minimize damage to the reefs
  3. Training in advance on how to protect the coral while snorkeling or diving
  4. Some of the proceeds go to fund further research and reef restoration
Dawn Wientjes
Dawn Wientjes
16:49 25 Jul 19
Seahorse Land and Water Taxi were so friendly and easy to work with. They made traveling from the airport to our island simple. We booked them from St. Thomas to Oil Nut bay. They had the customers forms all filled out and simple, the process was very quick. The best part was their responsiveness and communication throughout the process. I would highly recommend them!read more
james longshore
james longshore
17:18 16 May 19
These guys did a tremendous job getting us from St Thomas airport to Tortola. We were pushing it to make it through customs in time. Ameer navigated through traffic on side streets to avoid a police parade and get us to Red Hook, where Kim and Nelson had the boat waiting for us. They all cooridinated with each other and we beat customs closing by 12 minutes. I don't think any other service could have got us there in time. Highly recommend these guys. Thanks!read more
Dennis Blauser
Dennis Blauser
15:32 21 Feb 19
we Used Seahorse for a water taxi between St Thomas and Tortola. They were on time and very courteous. We highly recommend them!read more
Brooks Glass
Brooks Glass
16:05 20 Dec 18
Great service. We had a flight delay and they were very flexible with us and made travel easy.
Yvette Zona
Yvette Zona
23:24 29 Oct 18
Kenny is a man of his word, he always works to do the best he can to help others, no matter what. He has vision and wants to leave the world in a better place. That is a beautiful thing in this day and more
Julie Schmandke
Julie Schmandke
13:36 25 Oct 18
Seahorse Land & Water Taxi is a first rate outfit! Their personnel are very knowledgeable and have years of experience. They seem to know everything about the islands and have great tips on what to see & do. They are easy to work with and manage all the details. They even offer ways to help save money if you're willing to share a ride. This is definitely the best water taxi in the Virgin Islands!read more
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