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Darryl Leniuk / Getty Images

By Katie Day

An emerging concern among ocean scientists, stewards and beachgoers is the impact that certain chemical sunscreens are having on the marine environment. This has led to bans on the sale and use of chemical sunscreens in states and island communities such as Hawaii, Key West and Aruba, and a proposed federal ban in all U.S. National Marine Sanctuaries containing coral reefs. There has also been a surge in the production of "reef friendly" sunscreens — but what does that actually mean, and how safe are these alternative sunscreens to the marine environment?

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Coral bleaching at Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef in March 2016. The Ocean Agency / XL Catlin Seaview Survey / Richard Vevers

The back-to-back coral bleaching events that damaged two-thirds of Australia's Great Barrier Reef in 2016 and 2017 have had a lasting impact on the health of the largest living structure on earth.

A study published in Nature Wednesday found that the death of corals in 2016 and 2017 has significantly decreased the ability of new corals to grow and thrive. In 2018, there has been an 89 percent decline in the number of new corals on the reef compared to the historic record.

"Dead corals don't make babies," lead author and James Cook University professor Terry Hughes said, as BBC News reported.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Lord Howe Island lagoon in New South Wales, Australia. Peter Unger / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images

By Tess Moriarty, Bill Leggat, C. Mark Eakin, Rosie Steinberg, Scott Heron and Tracy Ainsworth

This month corals in Lord Howe Island Marine Park began showing signs of bleaching. The 145,000 hectare marine park contains the most southerly coral reef in the world, in one of the most isolated ecosystems on the planet.

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Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef. Marco Brivio / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images

The Great Barrier Reef faces yet "another nail in the coffin," Dr. Simon Boxall from the National Oceanography Centre Southampton told BBC News Friday.

That is because the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) has approved plans to dump one million tonnes (approximately 1.1 million U.S. tons) of sludge into the World Heritage Site. The decision comes in the same month that runoff from flooding in Queensland, Australia threatened to smother part of the reef and two years after the unique ecosystem was weakened by back-to-back coral bleaching events caused by climate change.

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Partially bleached corals on Molasses Reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Matt Kieffer / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

City officials in Key West have put the cap on sunscreen—or at least varieties that contain chemicals believed to harm coral reefs and increase coral bleaching and death.

The Florida Keys is home to the third largest living coral barrier reef system in the world. The ecosystem is a habitat for fish species and other marine life and also serves as economically important touristic and recreational spot.

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Researchers found that the response of corals to heat stress during the second of two unprecedentedback-to-back bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef was markedly different from the first. Tane Sinclair-Taylor

The Great Barrier Reef has been hit hard by climate change. As waters warm, the higher ocean temperatures force the coral to expel the algae that lives inside of it, providing it with both its nutrients and its brilliant colors. If the water does not cool fast enough and the algae does not return, the coral dies.

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Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Steve Parish/ Lock the Gate Alliance / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Australian scientists have found the "most diverse coral site" on the Great Barrier Reef, observing at least 195 different species of corals in space no longer than 500 meters, The Guardian reported.

The non-profit organization Great Barrier Reef Legacy and marine scientist Charlie Veron, a world expert on coral reefs, confirmed the diversity of the site, also known as the "Legacy Super Site" on the outer reef.

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Pexels

By Marlene Cimons

Much of the deep sea has never been explored close-up by humans. Some submarines have plumbed its depths, but reaching the ocean bottom is a complicated and expensive journey, challenging because the seabed lies under more than three miles of water, which exerts huge amounts of pressure. "We know more about space than about the bottom of the oceans in our own planet, even though more than two-thirds of the surface of the Earth is covered by marine sediments," said Olivier Sulpis, a researcher and doctoral student at McGill University's department of earth and planetary sciences.

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Hawaii, Cauliflower coral (Pocillopora meandrina) with surface reflections. Robinson Ed / Perspectives / Getty Images

Cauliflower coral, a bushy species in the Hawaiian Islands that has been devastated by ocean warming triggered by human-caused climate change, could soon get federal protection. The National Marine Fisheries Service Wednesday announced that listing the species may be warranted under the Endangered Species Act, based on a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity.

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QUT

The Great Barrier Reef is under constant threat from climate change and aggressive pests, so it's a good thing that scientists at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have built it it's own Terminator to defend it.

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Conservative lawmaker Scott Morrison has forced out Malcolm Turnbull as Australian prime minister, the third time the country's leader has sunk over climate policy in the past decade, and the seventh since 1997, according to Australia's ABC News.

An internal Liberal party row started when Turnbull proposed modest emissions targets for the country's energy sector. He dropped the plans Monday after pressure from the party's right-wing faction, but that led to a narrowly defeated leadership challenge from Peter Dutton on Tuesday, then a final ousting from Morrison on Friday.

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