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Sunscreen: Good for You, Bad for Bonefish

Posted on November 04 2015

Handling Bonefish.
Hold on, is there sunscreen on your hands? Photo: Zach Kearl.

A while back we shared a link on our blog to some recent research on the negative effects of sunscreen while handling bonefish. We recently got our hands on the research as published in the Environmental Biology of Fishesand found it super interesting. We thought you might too, so we figured we’d share it with you today.

According to the research team at the Cape Eleuthera Institute, handling bonefish with hands coated in conventional sunscreen were found to remove 50% more of the fish’s protective layer of mucous than when handled with clean wet hands. It is this mucous that serves as the fish’s first line of defense against infection from the outside environment, making it extremely important for the well being of the fish.

The study also tested the amount of mucous removed from hands covered in UV-blocking gloves as well as when coated in zinc based sun block. However, although both cases were found to remove less mucous than hands coated in conventional sunscreen, neither method removed less mucous than clean wet hands.

So, what can we learn from this study? When handling bonefish please, please, please consider the following.

  • Always wet hands before handling bonefish.
  • Consider using UV-protecting gloves and/or sleeves in lieu of sunscreen to protect your skin.
  • If using gloves, remove before handling bonefish.
  • Even with clean wet hands, try to handle bonefish as little as possible.

A slimy fish is a happy fish.. Please fish responsibly.

More on Bonefish Conservation

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