Inform

The health, beauty and ecosystem of our beaches is under threat

The driving cause for most of these problems is overdevelopment and poor coastal management. If no buildings crowded the shoreline, there would be no shoreline armoring, beach nourishment, threats to the beach fauna and flora or shoreline erosion problems.

Coastal Care Introduction

“Beach sand: so common, so complex, so perfect for sandcastles; and now it is a precious and vanishing resource.”

—Orrin H. Pilkey

Beaches are the most visited natural attraction on the planet. The coast attracts millions of vacationing people each year. People love the sand, the surf, the sea breeze, and the vacation ambiance so much that many come to the beach to stay. There is a magical feeling living near the ocean, but human migration towards the coast comes with a high environmental price tag.

A majority of the world’s population lives within 50 km of the coast and the projections are 75% by the year 2025. This strip of land represents only 3% of the total land mass of the planet. In this context, it is easier to understand the environmental impact. Over 70% of the earth is covered by water and with so many people living on the coast, we are polluting a major source of food, the oceans.

A beautiful undeveloped beach in Indonesia.

A beautiful undeveloped beach in Indonesia.

The loss of life and economic impacts of major storms – cyclones, typhoons, and hurricanes – and tsunamis would be reduced drastically if beaches were not developed. Unfortunately, recent examples of the problem are numerous: 1999 Indian cyclone Orissa (over 10,000 dead and $5 billion in damage), 2004 Indian Ocean tsumani (over 250,000 dead), 2005 Hurricane Katrina (over 1,800 killed and $80 billion in damage), and 2008 Hurricane Ike (over 30 killed and $30 billion in damage).

Today, the health, beauty, and ecosystem function of the world’s beaches are under threat and the driving causes for most of these problems are over-development and poor coastal management. If no buildings crowded the shoreline there would be no shoreline armoring, beach nourishment, threats to the beach fauna and flora or shoreline erosion problems.

It is important to distinguish between erosion and erosion problems. Erosion refers to the landward retreat of the shoreline. Most of the world’s shorelines are eroding, a very few are building out (accreting). There is no erosion problem, however, until someone builds something next to a shoreline. All over the world in remote areas, shorelines are slowly retreating and no one cares. In a global sense, our continents are slowly shrinking, and in a very real sense, erosion problems are man made. On a high-rise, condo-lined shoreline like those in Spain and the Florida coast, erosion is a huge problem and will only worsen in the future as sea level rise accelerates. Sea level rise will accelerate erosion of the shoreline and have a dramatic impact on our infrastructures, our economies, and our way of life.

Sea level rise is one of the most important causes of global shoreline erosion. If the coastline is developed, shoreline armoring is often used in an effort to save the buildings from the eroding shoreline. Once this begins, the beaches will degrade and eventually be lost. In the long-term, however, these armoring efforts are in vain. The ocean will continue to rise as the rate of sea level rise is expected to increase as the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets continue to degrade. The situation is made worse now because beach houses and condominiums are being built closer to the ocean than they were 25 years ago. Many of us are familiar with images of large beach houses about to fall victim to the oceans simply from daily erosion accelerated by the ever rising sea.

The work of the Santa Aguila Foundation will emphasize the impacts of sand mining and shoreline armoring: the first because the effects of sand mining have been largely ignored on a global scale and the latter due to its overwhelming negative impacts on the world’s beaches.


Surfing in / Inform

Cleanup of California Oil Spill Goes Low-Tech to Limit Environmental Impact

oil-on-rocks
Inform, Pollution
Jun
20

Because the Refugio state beach region is home to threatened shorebirds and cultural resources, a decision was made early on to clean oil-stained beaches the old-fashioned way by using hand tools instead of heavy equipment or chemicals.

No comments

Erosion Threatens Iconic NASA Launch Pads

ksc-nasa
Erosion, Inform
Jun
20

The ocean ticks a countdown of its own, along this thin strip of beach where rockets blasted to space from NASA’s two iconic launch pads. Waves lap ever closer to the concrete pads at Kennedy Space Center, as the moon that man reached from these sands drives tides that threaten the pads’ foundations.

No comments

Sand Being Hauled Aways from the Cagayan Beaches in the Philippines, Shipped off to China

sand-mining

At least 2.5 million metric tons of the country’s magnetite were shipped to China from almost five years of controversy-ridden blacksand mining operations in the province of Cagayan, government records showed.

No comments

A Little Fish with Big Impact In Trouble on U.S. West Coast

sardines

Scientists are concerned that officials waited too long to order a ban on U.S. Pacific sardine fishing that goes into effect July 1. The dire state of the sardine population is a cautionary tale about overharvesting these and other forage fish that are a critical part of the marine food web.

No comments

The Race For Water Odyssey Arrives In Hawaii To Continue Its Fight Against Plastic Pollution In The Oceans

easter-islands-cc
News, Pollution
Jun
19

Having left Easter Island, the R4WO scientific team will continue the collection of data that started three months ago, in the Azores, to create a corpus that would allow a better understanding of marine pollution.

No comments

Documentary ‘Sand Wars’ Highlights Local, Global Sand Crises

beach-sand-mining
News, Sand Mining
Jun
19

The environmental documentary ‘Sand Wars’ was shown at The Center for Ocean Health in Santa Cruz on Thursday, preceded by a presentation by UCSC professor Gary Griggs. As Gary Griggs and “Sand Wars” demonstrate, sand has become a valuable resource worldwide due in large part to continuous construction.

No comments

Tracing The Coastline

coastal-retreat
Erosion, Inform
Jun
18

With each wave that breaks and washes ashore as well as with every gust of wind, the coast is altered. Sometimes the change is dramatic, but more often, the change is too small to be seen right away and it only becomes clear over time.

No comments

There’s No Such Thing As a Spill-Proof Way to Transport Oil

refugio-oil-noaa
News, Pollution
Jun
17

To a historian of pipelines, last month’s Santa Barbara oil spill is a reminder that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Since their first introduction in the late 19th century, pipelines have leaked regularly and ruptured occasionally.

No comments

Suspended Sediment Makes it Harder for Fish to Breathe

disturbed-waters-dd

Researchers have discovered that suspended sediment damages fish gills and can increase the rate of disease in fish. Suspended sediments result from flood plumes, coastal agricultural and industrial development and from dredging operations and are increasing in coastal waters worldwide.

No comments

Recent / Inform

Cleanup of California Oil Spill Goes Low-Tech to Limit Environmental Impact

oil-on-rocks

June 20th, 2015

Because the Refugio state beach region is home to threatened shorebirds and cultural resources, a decision was made early on to clean oil-stained beaches the old-fashioned way by using hand tools instead of heavy equipment or chemicals.

Read More

Erosion Threatens Iconic NASA Launch Pads

ksc-nasa

June 20th, 2015

The ocean ticks a countdown of its own, along this thin strip of beach where rockets blasted to space from NASA’s two iconic launch pads. Waves lap ever closer to the concrete pads at Kennedy Space Center, as the moon that man reached from these sands drives tides that threaten the pads’ foundations.

Read More

Sand Being Hauled Aways from the Cagayan Beaches in the Philippines, Shipped off to China

sand-mining

June 20th, 2015

At least 2.5 million metric tons of the country’s magnetite were shipped to China from almost five years of controversy-ridden blacksand mining operations in the province of Cagayan, government records showed.

Read More

A Little Fish with Big Impact In Trouble on U.S. West Coast

sardines

June 20th, 2015

Scientists are concerned that officials waited too long to order a ban on U.S. Pacific sardine fishing that goes into effect July 1. The dire state of the sardine population is a cautionary tale about overharvesting these and other forage fish that are a critical part of the marine food web.

Read More

The Race For Water Odyssey Arrives In Hawaii To Continue Its Fight Against Plastic Pollution In The Oceans

easter-islands-cc

June 19th, 2015

Having left Easter Island, the R4WO scientific team will continue the collection of data that started three months ago, in the Azores, to create a corpus that would allow a better understanding of marine pollution.

Read More

Documentary ‘Sand Wars’ Highlights Local, Global Sand Crises

beach-sand-mining

June 19th, 2015

The environmental documentary ‘Sand Wars’ was shown at The Center for Ocean Health in Santa Cruz on Thursday, preceded by a presentation by UCSC professor Gary Griggs. As Gary Griggs and “Sand Wars” demonstrate, sand has become a valuable resource worldwide due in large part to continuous construction.

Read More

Tracing The Coastline

coastal-retreat

June 18th, 2015

With each wave that breaks and washes ashore as well as with every gust of wind, the coast is altered. Sometimes the change is dramatic, but more often, the change is too small to be seen right away and it only becomes clear over time.

Read More

There’s No Such Thing As a Spill-Proof Way to Transport Oil

refugio-oil-noaa

June 17th, 2015

To a historian of pipelines, last month’s Santa Barbara oil spill is a reminder that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Since their first introduction in the late 19th century, pipelines have leaked regularly and ruptured occasionally.

Read More

Suspended Sediment Makes it Harder for Fish to Breathe

disturbed-waters-dd

June 17th, 2015

Researchers have discovered that suspended sediment damages fish gills and can increase the rate of disease in fish. Suspended sediments result from flood plumes, coastal agricultural and industrial development and from dredging operations and are increasing in coastal waters worldwide.

Read More

At the Intersection of Coastal Peru and a Cloud Bank

lima-peru

June 16th, 2015

In the winter, the coast of Peru is a very cloudy place. In this part of the Pacific Ocean, the Humboldt Current provokes coastal upwelling; that is, cooler water from the ocean depths are pulled up to the surface.

Read More


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Coastal Care junior
The World's Beaches
Sand Mining
One Percent