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

Plastic in the North Atlantic has tripled since the 1960s

News, Pollution
Apr
16

For more than 60 years, scientists in the U.K. have been collecting data on marine plastic, assembling one of the most comprehensive datasets on how much plastic has filtered into the North Atlantic ocean.

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Micro plastics are raining down from the sky

News, Pollution
Apr
15

In what looks like a pristine, remote mountain region, tiny pieces of plastic pollution were found raining down from the sky—raising questions about the global extent of plastic pollution—a first-of-its-kind study has found.

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New Zealand’s Best Beaches Are Too Stunning for Words

Celebrate, Inform
Apr
13

Countless amazing beaches line the coasts of New Zealand. The island nation is known for its jaw-dropping stretches of sand.

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The young Republicans breaking with their party over climate change

It is becoming harder, however, for Trump to swat away the unfolding crises caused by global warming. American lives are increasingly ravaged by flooding and wildfires. Now, younger Republicans are breaking with Trump in an attempt to haul their party towards scientific reality.

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Russia will release 10 orcas, 87 belugas from overcrowded ‘whale jail’

Russian authorities and marine life advocates have signed an agreement to release nearly 100 marine mammals being held in the so-called “whale jail” on Russia’s Far East coast. The whales were illegally captured last summer and fall by four Russian companies that reportedly planned to sell them to marine parks in China.

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Scientists Say They Have Found a Viable Replacement for Petroleum-Based Plastic

News, Pollution
Apr
11

Scientists at Ohio State University say they have developed a viable alternative to petroleum-based plastic food packaging by using natural tree-based rubber.According to the researchers, the new biodegradable material holds promise for fighting the world’s growing plastic pollution problem, as well as for helping curb our reliance on fossil fuels.

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As mass timber takes off, how green is this new building material?

Mass timber construction is on the rise, with advocates saying it could revolutionize the building industry and be part of a climate change solution. But some are questioning whether the logging and manufacturing required to produce the new material outweigh any benefits.

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Artist replaces sand with microplastic found on beaches in contemporary hourglass

Designer Brodie Neill has created a contemporary hourglass filled with microplastic instead of sand to highlight the issue of ocean plastic pollution. The Capsule hourglass, which is filled with microplastic collected by Neill from beaches in Tasmania where he grew up, is an open-edition piece.

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Sea turtles struggle years after unexplained die-off

New research is detailing how environmental stressors, including heavy metals, brought on by human activity are harming coastal green sea turtle populations – work that researchers hope will inform conservation efforts going forward.

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Recent / Inform

The artist who’s happy with all his work being washed away

April 5th, 2019

The California tide soon washes away work by Andres Amador – but for the artist, that is part of the point.

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Global warming disrupts recovery of coral reefs

great-barrier-reef

April 3rd, 2019

The damage caused to the Great Barrier Reef by global warming has compromised the capacity of its corals to recover, according to new research.

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Coral study traces excess nitrogen to Maui wastewater treatment facility

April 3rd, 2019

A new method for reconstructing changes in nitrogen sources over time has enabled scientists to connect excess nutrients in the coastal waters of West Maui, Hawaii, to a sewage treatment facility that injects treated wastewater into the ground.

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Marine heat waves threaten the survival of dolphins and other mammals

dolphins

April 2nd, 2019

A marine heat wave in Western Australia that had lasting impacts on dolphin populations may be a disturbing sign of things to come, according to a new study. The researchers have determined that climate change will have more devastating consequences for marine mammals than what was previously realized.

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Hamelin Bay Beach, Australia

April 2nd, 2019

Visitors to the Margaret River region head here to see stingrays up close, yet often fail to notice the fantastic rock formations protruding from the earth along the beach’s southern end.

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Pregnant whale washed up in Italian tourist spot had 22 kilograms of plastic in its stomach

April 1st, 2019

The carcass of a pregnant sperm whale that washed up in Sardinia, Italy, last week had 22 kilograms (49 pounds) of plastic in its stomach, and was carrying a dead fetus, the country’s environment minister and a marine life non-profit organization said.

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Even Antarctica’s Coldest Region Is Starting to Melt

March 30th, 2019

East Antarctica is the coldest spot on earth, long thought to be untouched by warming. But now the glaciers and ice shelves in this frigid region are showing signs of melting, a development that portends dramatic rises in sea levels this century and beyond.

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Sea anemones are ingesting plastic microfibers

March 30th, 2019

Tiny fragments of plastic in the ocean are consumed by sea anemones along with their food, and bleached anemones retain these microfibers longer than healthy ones, according to new research.

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Why do Garfield phones keep washing up on this beach?

March 29th, 2019

For three decades it was a mystery that seemed to defy belief. Bright orange plastic novelty phones shaped like the grumpy cartoon cat Garfield kept washing up on the rocky Atlantic shoreline of Brittany, in western France.

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Hudson river shows signs of rebound after decades as New York’s sewer

March 28th, 2019

New York’s Hudson river, once known as America’s Rhine in a nod to the famous European waterway, played a pivotal role in bolstering American power at the cost of decades of foul pollution.

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