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

Emperor penguins’ first journey to sea

New research reveals the previously unknown behaviors of juvenile Emperor penguins in their critical early months when they leave their birth colony. Emperor penguins are particularly vulnerable to climate change because their life cycles are so dependent on sea ice.

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Mangrove patches deserve greater recognition no matter the size

Governments must provide stronger protection for crucial small mangrove patches, experts say.

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The women fighting a pipeline that could destroy precious wildlife

Activists fight to stop construction of the Bayou Bridge pipeline, which endangers an ecosystem that is one of the most important bird habitats in the western hemisphere.

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Trump administration expands oil drilling despite shutdown

Interior department continues processing permits and moves forward with controversial plan to increase drilling in the Arctic.

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Solving the ancient mysteries of Easter Island

Inform
Jan
14

The ancient people of Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Chile) built their famous ahu monuments near coastal freshwater sources, according to a team of researchers.

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Argentina: The Atlantic Coast loses two meters of beach per year

It happens in the main beaches of Buenos Aires, due to the erosion, generated by the loss of dunes, urban intervention, with walls of cement, coastal roads, the afforestation of the dunes and the theft of sand for constructions.

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Q&A: ‘There’s a Lot More Climate Finance Available than People Think’

While growth in the green economy looks promising, government regulation and a business-as-usual approach are among the hurdles inhibiting cleaner energy production.

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As Disease Ravages Coral Reefs, Scientists Scramble for Solutions

As oceans warm, coral reefs are suffering not only from bleaching but from deadly outbreaks of disease. Researchers are developing remedies, but the key question is whether these solutions can work on a large-enough scale to save vast reef systems from Florida to Australia.

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Why more female penguins are washing up dead in South America

Every year, thousands of penguins become stranded on South America’s coast – with females three times more likely to wash up dead or injured than males.

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Recent / Inform

Emperor penguins’ first journey to sea

January 20th, 2019

New research reveals the previously unknown behaviors of juvenile Emperor penguins in their critical early months when they leave their birth colony. Emperor penguins are particularly vulnerable to climate change because their life cycles are so dependent on sea ice.

Read More

Mangrove patches deserve greater recognition no matter the size

January 18th, 2019

Governments must provide stronger protection for crucial small mangrove patches, experts say.

Read More

The women fighting a pipeline that could destroy precious wildlife

January 17th, 2019

Activists fight to stop construction of the Bayou Bridge pipeline, which endangers an ecosystem that is one of the most important bird habitats in the western hemisphere.

Read More

Trump administration expands oil drilling despite shutdown

January 15th, 2019

Interior department continues processing permits and moves forward with controversial plan to increase drilling in the Arctic.

Read More

Solving the ancient mysteries of Easter Island

January 14th, 2019

The ancient people of Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Chile) built their famous ahu monuments near coastal freshwater sources, according to a team of researchers.

Read More

Argentina: The Atlantic Coast loses two meters of beach per year

January 14th, 2019

It happens in the main beaches of Buenos Aires, due to the erosion, generated by the loss of dunes, urban intervention, with walls of cement, coastal roads, the afforestation of the dunes and the theft of sand for constructions.

Read More

Q&A: ‘There’s a Lot More Climate Finance Available than People Think’

January 13th, 2019

While growth in the green economy looks promising, government regulation and a business-as-usual approach are among the hurdles inhibiting cleaner energy production.

Read More

As Disease Ravages Coral Reefs, Scientists Scramble for Solutions

January 13th, 2019

As oceans warm, coral reefs are suffering not only from bleaching but from deadly outbreaks of disease. Researchers are developing remedies, but the key question is whether these solutions can work on a large-enough scale to save vast reef systems from Florida to Australia.

Read More

Why more female penguins are washing up dead in South America

January 11th, 2019

Every year, thousands of penguins become stranded on South America’s coast – with females three times more likely to wash up dead or injured than males.

Read More

Sunscreen and cosmetics compound may harm coral by altering fatty acids

January 10th, 2019

Researchers say that one such chemical, octocrylene (OC), which is also in some cosmetics and hair products, accumulates in coral as fatty acid esters that could be toxic to the marine organism.

Read More


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