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

Trucking Mud to the Beaches Means More Sand but Dirtier Waters, CA

News, Pollution

When Santa Barbara County dumps tons of mud from the catastrophic debris flow of January 9 on the shores of Goleta and Carpinteria, this wasn’t like anything that’s happened before. So residents are asking, “Will there be long-term effects? Might there be other locations that can share the impacts..?”

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Mysterious lives of narwhals

Arctic marine mammals are really good indicators of climate change because they are very specialized. They are finely attuned to specific environmental conditions, thus are good indicator species for how the physical changes many scientists are documenting in the Arctic can reverberate throughout the ecosystem.

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New Trump Administration Flood Standards Mirror Obama-Era Rules

Six months after President Trump revoked an Obama-era rule mandating that federally funded projects account for future sea level rise and flooding, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced that recipients of $7.4 billion in disaster recovery grants must do just that — seemingly representing a reversal of the administration’s stance on climate preparedness.

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Demand for sand leads to global ecological crisis

Every day, miners remove 5,500 to 6,000 truckloads of sand (about 20 tons each) from the scenic beachfronts and 17 river basins of Tamil Nadu, India. Fueled by a real estate boom estimated to generate $180 billion annually by 2020, India is digging 500 million metric tons of sand every year, feeding an industry worth more than $50 billion. And India’s hunger is bound to increase…

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Can the World Find Solutions to the Nitrogen Pollution Crisis?

More and more nitrogen keeps pouring into waterways, unleashing algal blooms and creating dead zones. To prevent the problem from worsening, scientists warn, the world must drastically cut back on synthetic fertilizers and double the efficiency of the nitrogen used on farms.

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Polar bears could become extinct faster than was feared, study says

Polar bears could be sliding towards extinction faster than previously feared, with the animals facing an increasing struggle to find enough food to survive as climate change steadily transforms their environment.

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Whale and shark species at increasing risk from microplastic pollution – study

Whales, some sharks and other marine species such as rays are increasingly at risk from microplastics in the oceans, a new study published in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, suggests.

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10 threatened U.S. coastlines

America’s 95,000 miles of coastlines are among the most scenic on the planet, from sandy white beaches to lush marshes to rocky cliffs. And yet, our coasts remain threatened. Coastal habitats can be destroyed by development, overfishing, pollution and even the dredging of sea canals.

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Can Deepwater Aquaculture Avoid the Pitfalls of Coastal Fish Farms?

Near-shore fish farms have created a host of environmental problems. Now, U.S. aquaculture advocates – backed by mainstream conservation groups – are saying that locating well-run operations out in the ocean could produce sustainable food and protect wild stocks from overfishing.

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Recent / Inform

Tendrils of Sediment in the Caspian Sea

February 3rd, 2018

Along the Caspian Sea’s southeastern side, off the coast of Turkmenistan, one feature shows up year-round in almost every cloud-free satellite image. The Caspian is marked by colorful swirls of perpetually turbid seawater.

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“We have one ocean,” Josh Stein says, threatening offshore drilling legal action

February 2nd, 2018

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has assembled a coalition of attorneys general from 11 other coastal states calling for the U.S. Interior Department to cancel the Trump administration’s plan to expand offshore drilling.

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Scientists Pinpoint How Ocean Acidification Weakens Coral Skeletons

January 31st, 2018

The rising acidity of the oceans threatens coral reefs by making it harder for corals to build their skeletons. A new study identifies the details of how ocean acidification affects coral skeletons, allowing scientists to predict more precisely where corals will be more vulnerable.

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Create “Sponge Cities” to Tackle Worsening Floods

January 31st, 2018

With floods now causing more damage more frequently around the world, it is time to counter their effects by turning our towns into “Sponge Cities”, a recent trend popularised by China to absorb rainwater through permeable roads and pavements, parks, rooftop gardens and other green spaces.

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Climate change threatens half of US bases worldwide, Pentagon report finds

January 31st, 2018

Nearly half of US military sites are threatened by wild weather linked to climate change, according to a new Pentagon study whose findings run contrary to White House views on global warming.

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Life’s a beach: Cannes ships in sand for film festival

January 30th, 2018

Every year the French Riviera town of Cannes rolls out the red carpet to A-list celebrities at the world’s most glamorous film festival. Now it wants to roll out a bigger beach too. The Mediterranean resort is shipping in 80,000 cubic meters of white sand – enough to fill 32 Olympic swimming pools – to widen the beach along a 1.4 kilometer (0.9 mile) stretch of seafront.

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Chile creates five national parks over 10m acres in historic act of conservation

January 29th, 2018

The creation of the parks marks the latest in a flurry of environmental protection laws which have brought Chile to the forefront of worldwide conservation efforts.

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Shoreline lessons – how beach trips boost learning

January 29th, 2018

For the past five years, Beach Schools South West has been travelling all over Devon, UK, to enable children of all backgrounds to experience outdoor learning.

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Plastic in the Oceans Increasing Risk of Disease in Coral Reefs

January 27th, 2018

More than 11 billion pieces of plastic are lodged within coral reefs in the Asia-Pacific region. According to a new study published in the journal Science, as this plastic gets tangled, it often cuts the coral, increasing the risk of infection and disease outbreaks by as much 89 percent.

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The EPA made a surprise move that could protect the world’s largest salmon fishery

January 27th, 2018

In a surprise reversal, the EPA announced it is withdrawing its plan to suspend environmental protections for the Bristol Bay watershed in Alaska, that is home to the world’s most valuable wild salmon fishery.

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