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

Wahala: trouble in the Niger delta – photo essay

Inform, Pollution
Oct
18

Covering 70,000 sq km (27,000 sq miles) of wetlands, the Niger delta used to be an incredibly rich ecosystem that contained one of the highest concentrations of biodiversity on the planet before the oil industry moved to the area.

Comments Off on Wahala: trouble in the Niger delta – photo essay

South Atlantic humpback whales have rebounded from near extinction

After being hunted nearly to extinction in the early 20th century, a population of humpback whales in the southern Atlantic Ocean has almost entirely recovered, according to a new study.

Comments Off on South Atlantic humpback whales have rebounded from near extinction

Army Corps’ proposal for sand dunes in newest plan brings questions about cost, feasibility

A $32 billion plan for a coastal barrier system to protect the Houston-Galveston region, including 14-foot-high dune fields is seen as the latest innovation designed for Texas to engineer its way out of an existential crisis: a coastline gradually vanishing and increasingly vulnerable to massive storm surges and sea level rise.

Comments Off on Army Corps’ proposal for sand dunes in newest plan brings questions about cost, feasibility

Scientists rush to rescue sea turtles threatened by mysterious Brazil oil spill

Crude oil has been washing up along a 1,200-mile stretch of coastline of the Brazilian northeast for over a month, leaving more than 150 of Brazil’s postcard-perfect beaches covered in thick, sludgy black patches. It is also along this coastline that olive ridley and loggerhead sea turtles come to make their nests and lay their eggs.

Comments Off on Scientists rush to rescue sea turtles threatened by mysterious Brazil oil spill

Melting ice redraws the World map and starts a power struggle

The Arctic is emerging as a potential geopolitical flashpoint for the U.S., Russia and China as shipping routes get unblocked.

Comments Off on Melting ice redraws the World map and starts a power struggle

The 28 Best Beaches in the Caribbean

Inform
Oct
11

Ahh, Caribbean beaches. We’re guessing soft white sand, pristine water, and swaying palm trees come to mind? There are those, yes. But there’s way more variety to consider: beaches with jet black sand and pounding surf; others with pink sand and a calm sea.

Comments Off on The 28 Best Beaches in the Caribbean

Nor’easter submerges newly replenished N.J. beaches

An ocean storm will continue to meander off the Middle Atlantic coast through Saturday, generating a strong onshore flow that will continue to lash New Jersey beaches. Lavallette and Seaside Heights are both recent recipients of Army Corps of Engineers beach replenishment and engineered protective dune systems. While the beaches were underwater, water did not appear to impact the dunes.

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Mysterious Oil Spill Becomes New Environmental Crisis for Brazil

News, Pollution
Oct
9

A mysterious oil spill that has polluted shores along a vast area of Brazil’s northeast may have resulted from unspecified criminal activity. An estimated 100 tons of crude has drifted toward land since early September, polluting some of the country’s most pristine beaches.

Comments Off on Mysterious Oil Spill Becomes New Environmental Crisis for Brazil

10 Best Beaches in Costa Rica

Costa Rica by Nancy Optiz

With two oceans and 800 miles of coastline, it’s easy to see why there are so many great beaches in Costa Rica.

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Recent / Inform

Wahala: trouble in the Niger delta – photo essay

October 18th, 2019

Covering 70,000 sq km (27,000 sq miles) of wetlands, the Niger delta used to be an incredibly rich ecosystem that contained one of the highest concentrations of biodiversity on the planet before the oil industry moved to the area.

Read More

South Atlantic humpback whales have rebounded from near extinction

October 17th, 2019

After being hunted nearly to extinction in the early 20th century, a population of humpback whales in the southern Atlantic Ocean has almost entirely recovered, according to a new study.

Read More

Army Corps’ proposal for sand dunes in newest plan brings questions about cost, feasibility

October 16th, 2019

A $32 billion plan for a coastal barrier system to protect the Houston-Galveston region, including 14-foot-high dune fields is seen as the latest innovation designed for Texas to engineer its way out of an existential crisis: a coastline gradually vanishing and increasingly vulnerable to massive storm surges and sea level rise.

Read More

Scientists rush to rescue sea turtles threatened by mysterious Brazil oil spill

October 15th, 2019

Crude oil has been washing up along a 1,200-mile stretch of coastline of the Brazilian northeast for over a month, leaving more than 150 of Brazil’s postcard-perfect beaches covered in thick, sludgy black patches. It is also along this coastline that olive ridley and loggerhead sea turtles come to make their nests and lay their eggs.

Read More

Melting ice redraws the World map and starts a power struggle

October 12th, 2019

The Arctic is emerging as a potential geopolitical flashpoint for the U.S., Russia and China as shipping routes get unblocked.

Read More

The 28 Best Beaches in the Caribbean

October 11th, 2019

Ahh, Caribbean beaches. We’re guessing soft white sand, pristine water, and swaying palm trees come to mind? There are those, yes. But there’s way more variety to consider: beaches with jet black sand and pounding surf; others with pink sand and a calm sea.

Read More

Nor’easter submerges newly replenished N.J. beaches

October 11th, 2019

An ocean storm will continue to meander off the Middle Atlantic coast through Saturday, generating a strong onshore flow that will continue to lash New Jersey beaches. Lavallette and Seaside Heights are both recent recipients of Army Corps of Engineers beach replenishment and engineered protective dune systems. While the beaches were underwater, water did not appear to impact the dunes.

Read More

Mysterious Oil Spill Becomes New Environmental Crisis for Brazil

October 9th, 2019

A mysterious oil spill that has polluted shores along a vast area of Brazil’s northeast may have resulted from unspecified criminal activity. An estimated 100 tons of crude has drifted toward land since early September, polluting some of the country’s most pristine beaches.

Read More

10 Best Beaches in Costa Rica

Costa Rica by Nancy Optiz

October 8th, 2019

With two oceans and 800 miles of coastline, it’s easy to see why there are so many great beaches in Costa Rica.

Read More

Dual approach needed to save sinking cities and bleaching corals

October 8th, 2019

Local conservation can boost the climate resilience of coastal ecosystems, species and cities and buy them precious time in their fight against sea-level rise, ocean acidification and warming temperatures, a new paper by scientists at Duke University and Fudan University suggests.

Read More


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