The Santa Aguila Foundation and Coastalcare.org


“Do we know if the clouds believe in any God? If the birds are Muslim, Christian, or Jews? If the rising wind makes its prayer? And if the child that sleeps does not survive in us? It does not prevent the clouds, the birds, the wind, and the child to be so close to the sky.”
—Abdelhak Serhane

Aguila was fortunate to spend her short life in an exceptional natural environment. Her home was on the powerful and pristine Atlantic Ocean. Her sandbox was a magnificent, vast, and unspoiled beach; she lived amongst its wildlife.

Every child should have the right to live in a “healthy” natural environment as Aguila did. Inspired by her memory, we have established the Santa Aguila Foundation.

Our mission is to:

  • Produce a comprehensive curiculum for children to learn about the importance of coastlines, and empower them to act to protect this crucial environment;
  • Raise awareness of the many unsustainable practices that are harming the world’s beaches and coasts;
  • Educate children about the science of natural beaches and empower them to act to protect their coastal environment;
  • Advocate for sensible, science-based policies and regulations that will protect and preserve coastlines and beaches around the world; and
  • Mobilize individuals to recognize and address global issues of coastal management.

While there are a number of local or even national organizations that advocate for coastal environmental protection, we believe that the global perspective and educational mission of this Foundation is unique. In fact, we believe that addressing these issues requires a global effort.

Global warming, the associated sea-level rise, and sand erosion will touch everybody, but children and future generations will be particularly impacted. Continued human interference is placing coastlines and beaches around the globe at risk.

The Foundation will continue a journey begun many years ago by its founders to fight for the protection of the Atlantic coastline of Morocco – particularly the beaches – and against “legal” and illegal sand mining. Primarily due to sand mining, seventy percent of the coastal wetlands in Morocco have disappeared. Along with this has come the destruction of numerous ecosystems and ecological environments crucial to sustaining ecological balance.

Coastlines and beaches constitute important habitat for many threatened organisms, recreational centers of great value for humanity, economic resources for sustainable tourism, and areas of great scientific interest. This intersection of the land and sea contains special fauna and flora, as well as a unique physical environment in a very narrow and restricted zone that is much sought after by humans. This human interest is reflected in the global surge in populations near the coasts, which now threatens coastlines and beaches everywhere.

With global warming and rising sea levels, sand mining is particularly senseless; indeed, sand and sand dunes are sorely needed as a natural protection and energy absorber responding to storms, tsunamis, and sea-level rise. The preservation of beaches and their unique ecosystems – including plants, feeding and nesting birds, turtles, fish, porpoise, and the fauna within the beach sand – should be of general concern.

Our fight has enabled us to meet and assemble some of the world most prominent experts in the field. Results of our collaborative efforts has already culminated into the following:

  • The creation of coastalcare.org a unique portal website, focused on coastal and beach issues and education. The site will serve as the central hub of the Foundation’s activities, and federate the efforts of many local communities from around the world;
  • The production of short documentary movies focused on North Carolina, and aimed at informing and educating global audiences on critical coastline and beach issues; and,
  • The publication of a white paper studying the extent and impacts of sand mining in Morocco – the worst case in the world. This paper was presented at the European Geological Union meeting in Vienna (April 2009).
  • The global review of beach sand mining worldwide distributed via coastalcare.org.

This is just the beginning. We need further funding to continue our work, already in progress:

  • Fund a full-time scientist to perform research, prepare reports, maintain the website and provide expertise to the various projects of the Foundation;
  • Continue the production of short documentary movies focused on coastlines and beaches worldwide, as well as scientific missions, to inform and educate global audiences on critical issues affecting this unique part of our environment;
  • Promote advocacy for the protection of coastlines, and beaches; and
  • Form partnerships with various related, influential environmental communities with the aim to strengthen common projects, and increase visibility.
  • Publish the first ever educational book on world beaches;

We hope that you can help us in this very important work. We feel that tangible progress can be made within a reasonable short time frame in order to gather sufficient resolve to affect change on your local beach, and on coastlines and beaches worldwide.

Santa Aguila Foundation

Very truly yours,

Santa Aguila Foundation

What can I do to help care for the world’s coastlines?

Why are some beaches in greater need of care?

Every beach is different. Some beaches are used by the public more than other due to location, accessibility, or proximity to cities. Some beaches are places where trash naturally washes ashore. Local governments may lack money to properly care for their beach and laws protecting beaches vary from country to country and within countries.

What exactly is a beach? A shore?

A beach is an area of land covered by sand, pebbles, or rocks next to a body of water. A shore is a more general term for the land next to a body of water.

Is coastalcare.org non-profit?


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Why we need Coastal Care

If the ocean is a temple, then beaches are the steps to that temple. We know this when we walk onto a beach—white or black sand, pebbles or shingle. We are suddenly not who we were just a moment ago, back in the parking lot, on the asphalt. We are changed into something lighter—something in us has been refreshed. There is something spiritual about a beach—a beach is one of the last places in the world where we can sense something magical simply by where we are standing.

No wonder that sixty percent of the world’s population chooses to live within 50 kilometers of the shoreline—who could blame them? And by 2025, that figure should rise to almost 75 percent. But wait a minute. Seventy five percent of the world’s population clinging to the shoreline of our oceans. And bringing to its beaches what population always brings—construction, overcrowding, exhaust, refuse, pollution and stress. This is a cause for concern. Even alarm. Because if the ocean is the great mother we all came from, then her beaches are her skin. They’re the barrier between land and sea, keeping them separate and healthy. Tear away our mother’s skin and you open her to infection.

In North Africa, sand is being mined from beaches and hauled away to add to cement to make concrete for roads and construction. Dubai is manufacturing a charming archipelago of sand islands in its gulf, sites for expensive houses, but Dubai has run out of its own marine sand and is buying sand sucked from the beaches of neighboring countries. Miami Beach is no longer much of a beach because so much sand has been dredged away to protect oceanfront houses and permit new development.

We walk on our beaches, they go on for miles and we think to ourselves, they are endless, eternal. They are not. Like everything else in our natural world, beaches are fragile, easily destroyed, impossible to replace once they are taken away.

That is why we need Coastal Care, a non-profit foundation dedicated to defending the beaches and shorelines of our shared planet. Through programs of education, advocacy, and celebration, Coastal Care extends a human hand to assist our great mother and protect her health.

To protect the Melasti ritual in Bali, where every year Hindus bring their deities to the ocean to wash them in the sea. To protect the sites of Caribbean drum rituals at sunset. To assure that the annual arribada of half a million sea turtles onto the coast of Costa Rica to lay their eggs under a three-quarter moon will occur once again. To protect the spawning grunion and sea lions on the beaches of California. To live together in the quickly-approaching future, we need our planet to be as healthy as it wants to be. To live together, we need to preserve the health of our beaches and shorelines.

That’s what Coastal Care is for.

—Marc Norman

Advisory Board

  • Orrin Pilkey, Phd., James B. Duke Professor of Earth Science Emeritus, Nicholas School of the Environment and Duke University
  • Rob S. Young, Phd., Director, Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines