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Protecting the Reef from an Unexpected Predator

September 29, 2012

Protect the Reef with Eco-Friendly Sunscreen

If you’ve snorkelled Hanauma BayMolokini CraterBora Bora Reef Discovery or other popular reef exploration destinations then you've probably been told by tour guides and protective locals to avoid stepping on or touching the reef, not so much to avoid being punctured by sharp coral (a deterrent nonetheless) but for the sake of the reef itself. However, aside from physical touches, you may be bringing other elements into the ecosystem that have a less visible or immediate but even more damaging impact - your sunscreen. While protecting yourself from the sun’s UV rays you’re inadvertently harming the coral reef by injecting chemical laden lotions into the ocean, creating a toxic soup mix that will gradually wear away on the sensitive reef over the years. Multiply that fact by the millions of lathered up souls that enter the ocean everyday and we've got an ecological crisis on our hands. Think I'm exaggerating? I'm certainly no marine biologist or a microfiche catalogue of environmental facts so instead of just taking my word for it please check out this National Geographic article regarding reef damaging sunscreen for validation.

Now I'm not usually one for using this travel blog forum to stand on a soapbox and preach but seeing as we spend a lot of time at YAHglobal pointing you towards some of the best ocean activities in America the math is simply too clear to ignore folks. We (dedicated travelers) each spend thousands of dollars a year to fly off and enjoy underwater sites of the Caribbean and North/South Pacific that put the most obnoxious Dubai hotel aquariums to shame. In doing so, we are harming the very thing we spend a small middle-income fortune to see. For a few extra bucks we should bypass the $4.99 tube of Coppertone and ask our local drug store if they carry chemical free ocean safe sunscreen alternatives. If not, we can order it online in advance of our next trip to visit our favorite Atlantis.

It's the small things that makes the biggest difference for our friends under the sea and seeing as they - Whale Sharks to Clown Fish - have given us so much by just being there, one small purchase to protect their home is nothing to ask. Don't you think your future kids should have the opportunity to find their own un-pixelated Nemo one day? Yeah, I went there. Soapbox adjourned.

Please check out these reef safe sunscreens before your next trip to dip your toes into the ocean:

Raw Elements

Tropical Seas

Badger Balm

Soleo Organics

Protect the Reef with Reef Safe Sunscreen 

Wish You Were Here - Marcus Maraih, Editor, YAHglobal.Com

post by : Editor - YAH Yaps

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A Word To The Techie Traveler

September 15, 2012

I heard a cell phone ring out in the surf recently. I thought at first the sound may be the result of potential ear drum damage sustained from getting face slapped sideways by a rogue wave (read: wasn't paying attention) that caught me off guard earlier out at Queen's Reef in Waikiki. But I noticed the others bobbing up and down in the water turn their heads too as if we were all practicing some synchronized swimming routine for the next Olympics. Half way through the third ring the owner picked up, somewhat embarrassed but not embarrassed enough for someone bringing a cell phone out into the open ocean sans boat. Did I mention he was standing on a 12 foot (at least) soft-top stand-up paddle board? Did I need to? It was probably assumed.

Surfing while on cell phone - photo courtesy of Transworld Surf

If you can pull THIS off, then you'll be forgiven for bringing a smartphone into the surf

I cringed as did most of my eye rolling salt water bredren but then I remembered my most recent editorial contribution to a Best Travel Gear of 2012 list - the Catalyst Escape Capsule - a fully submersible waterproof iPhone skin. Oh god, I thought. What if by some minuscule chance THAT very piece sparked this guy's interest in a similar product resulting in the cardinal sin against fins before me. If not mine it was surely the work of some other well intentioned travel writer pushing to meet a deadline on the latest accessories for the wanderers of the world. I should have put a disclaimer stating that the product not be used in this circumstance. I thought it was implied?

I had to ask myself what I intended this product to be used for then. Resort swimming pool parties, sure. But for moments like this? Maybe his wife was due to have a baby at any moment but his dedication demanded he squeeze in a morning session nonetheless. Maybe an on-call heart surgeon doing the same? Both are admirable and would bring praise from the surrounding morning crew that want to chastise him at this very moment. Do we give him the benefit of the doubt? If in some way the work of a deadline pressed editor placed this product in the subject's hand then I say yes, OK?

Travel and technology have always had a complicated relationship. We travel, presumably, to escape the trappings of home and those trappings often include smartphones, computers, and other LCD screened contraptions we seek to disconnect from. But technology can also make travel better. It forces online suppliers (hotels, airlines, agencies) to offer lower prices. Climate proof equipment allows us to photograph, video, edit and post even the most extreme conditions and favorite moments while on the fly. It enables us to connect to the friends and loved ones we actually do want to stay in touch with while on the road or to better connect with those we meet traveling along the same. So where do we draw the line?

For me that line is bringing a cell phone into the surf (admirable aforementioned circumstances aside) . For others it's having headphones take you on a downloaded audio tour of a storied country side thus completely negating half of a sensory experience. Some renowned travel photographers still refuse to exclusively use digital. Many consider the act of bringing a laptop along on any trip enough to cancel out the experience all together - good for them.

Beach the Office OR Office at the Beach - photo courtesy of JohnnyVagabond.Com

If THIS is your office, then good for you - If THIS is your vacation, then not so good

The general rule of the traveler's technological thumb should go like this; if the tech toy of choice enhances your experience and better allows you to capture those indescribable moments to relive later when back at home then go for it. But if it distracts from the experience or impedes upon the space of others (a phone ringing in the surf) then leave it connected to the charger back at the hotel or hundreds of miles away on top of your entertainment center.

While everyone else in the line-up paddled away from the 12 foot stand-up paddle soft-top board cell phone guy I edged a little closer hoping to hear what was so important. No exciting news about contractions being 2 minutes apart. Whatever the conversation was it ended with a "yep, it works" and a hang up. Product test complete apparently. Maybe I'll catch up with him back up on the beach and get the model name and number for my next Travel Gear & Accessories piece, but this time with a disclaimer.


Wish You Were Here - Marcus Maraih, Editor, YAHglobal.Com

post by : Editor - YAH Yaps

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