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

Marine Litter: Solutions for a Major Environmental Problem; By Williams, A.T. and Rangel-Buitrago

A current major environmental problem is that marine litter is being deposited in increasing amounts on the world’s beaches and oceans. This is especially true for plastics, which form the bulk of the litter and which can last for an unknown number of years in the oceans.

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Bali Proposes a Tourist Tax to Clean Up Plastic Pollution

News, Pollution
Jan
27

Bali is considering taxing foreign tourists to tackle the Indonesian island’s mounting plastic pollution problem. Bali receives about 6 million visitors annually, mostly from China and Australia.

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Massive Santa Barbara oil spill still impacts U.S. 50 years later

Inform, Pollution
Jan
25

Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the Union Oil spill in Santa Barbara, which began with a blowout on an offshore drilling platform on Jan. 28, 1969.

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5 billion Dubai megaresort rises from The World

dubai-artificial-islands1

Four kilometers off the Dubai coastline lies Europe. Or a version of it, at least. Comprising six man-made islands styled after a mix of European countries and cities, when completed this $5 billion megaproject will be able to accommodate 16,000 tourists in the height of travel luxury.

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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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Recent / Inform

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The concrete blocks that once protected Britain

January 8th, 2019

Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care Excerpts; More than 100 years ago acoustic mirrors along the coast of England were built with the intention of using them to detect the sound of approaching German zeppelins… Read Full Article; BBC News (01-07-2019)

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Sprouting Mangroves Restore Hopes in Coastal Myanmar

January 7th, 2019

In most places, mangrove forest’s density is wafer thin thanks to rampant clearing of the mangroves for space to breed shrimps and for firewood etc. According to a recent study, Myanmar loses about 21 square km of its mangrove forests each year. But thanks to restoration efforts, the story is changing.

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From destruction, creation: A new black sand beach is born on the island of Hawaii

January 6th, 2019

The eight-mile-long river of lava that poured down the slopes of Kilauea volcano on the island of Hawaii last spring destroyed nearly everything in its path. But part of what it left behind offers a glimmer of hope for the battered land and economy: a new black sand beach.

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Microplastics and plastic additives discovered in ascidians all along Israel’s coastline

January 5th, 2019

A new study finds that microplastics — tiny pieces of plastic ingested by aquatic life — are present in solitary ascidians, sac-like marine invertebrate filter feeders, all along the Israeli coastline. The research also confirmed the presence of plastic additives, i.e. ‘plasticizers,’ in ascidians.

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In India, Nature’s Power Overwhelms Engineered Wetlands

January 4th, 2019

The picturesque Kerala backwaters in southern India, increasingly popular with tourists, form a network of engineered canals, lagoons, lakes, and rice paddies. But a fatal monsoon deluge has highlighted the global problem of how developed wetlands often lose their capacity to absorb major floods.

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Coastal Care junior
The World's Beaches
Sand Mining
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