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Half of all visitors to Maui snorkel while on their vacation. Before you put on your mask and fins to explore our local coral reefs, please take a minute to become familiar with important steps you should take to protect these beautiful and fragile ecosystems. 

While coral reefs worldwide have become threatened by climate change, sediment runoff, and pollution from fertilizers and chemicals, the choices that visitors make when they’re visiting Maui significantly impact the health of our reefs,” says Maui Nui Marine Resource Council Chair and Co-Founder Robin Newbold. 

“As a visitor to Maui, your choices make a huge difference to our coral reefs,” says Newbold. “There are simple yet vital things visitors can do, or actually not do, to preserve this precious resource.”

Maui Nui Marine Resource Council asks all who swim, surf, snorkel or dive in the ocean to avoid using sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, two chemicals that are illegal in Hawaii because they harm and kill corals. Additional chemicals to avoid are avobenzone and octocrylene. Choose zinc based sunscreen instead or cover up with a rash guard, hat and swim tights to minimize your sun exposure. Learn more at www.mauireefs.org/sunscreen

Second, avoid stepping or walking on coral. Doing so will harm the tiny soft-bodied animals called polyps that slowly build up the reef structure. Scraping against coral can cause serious infection as well. The team at Maui Nui Marine Resource Council recommends that you use a flotation device to help you keep your fins up and away from coral. If you must stand, stand only on sand, never on coral. 

Always give sea turtles at least 10 feet of space, in the water and on land. If you see a Hawaiian monk seal resting on shore, do not approach – and keep children and pets away – to protect these critically endangered marine mammals.  

Maui Nui Marine Resources Council is a 501(c)3 nonprofit founded in 2007 whose mission is to “preserve, protect and enhance the coral reefs of Maui Nui”.

For more information on how you can be a responsible guest visit mauireefs.org/snorkel.