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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

The Caribbean is stressed out

Forty percent of the world’s 2.5 billion people live in coastal cities and towns. A team of marine biologists just released 25 years of data about the health of Caribbean coasts.

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Already on Brink, Right Whales Are Pushed Closer to the Edge

North Atlantic right whales are one of the world’s most critically endangered large whales. For a few decades, the math for North Atlantic right whales seemed to be working out, and the whales appeared to be experiencing a tentative recovery. But beginning in 2010, the tiny gains in their numbers began eroding.

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Did sand from Australia’s east coast get sent to Hawaii?

kangourous-australie

Is it true that back in the day, they used to mine sand at the beach?

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Running out of sand: in numbers

Sand and gravel are the most-extracted materials in the world. The UN believes that sand and gravel, or aggregates, account for up to 85 percent of all mining activity around the world, measured in weight.

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Last of the ‘lost paradise’ islands

Inform
Dec
26

It is one of the last parts of Asia to see the sunset, it has some of the finest white-sand beaches in the world and its coral reefs are teeming with fish. But there is one big difference between the beaches on this tropical island group and Gisborne’s Midway, Waikanae and Wainui beaches: there are no people.

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According To Scientists, Visiting The Beach Can Change Your Brain In An Incredible Way

Celebrate, Inform
Dec
24

That incredible feeling of peace and calmness that you experience at the beach is now being referred to as “blue space.” That’s what scientists have dubbed the effect that the combination of soothing smells and sounds of water have on your brain. The blue space is enough to make you feel at ease in a hypnotic sort of way.

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Coastal Spit, Lake Erie

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Dec
23

Sediment has piled up to build this sand spit over thousands of years. Now covered with vegetation, Presque Isle State Park includes dozens of beach ridges—with each line representing a coastline from the past.

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Living Shorelines

“Living Shoreline Techniques in the Marine District of New York, ” a document produced by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, lays out an approach to the coast that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should heed. It “emphasizes natural and nature-based solution to erosion control that will protect New Yorkers and the environment.”

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Bahamas sand to fill in Florida beaches? Congress gave OK for study but no funding

The 2016 Water Resources Development Act authorized the Army Corps of Engineers to study using foreign sand, such as from the Bahamas, to widen shorelines without resorting to expensive and inefficient truck hauls from inland mines. A year later the study remains unfunded in the agency’s budget.

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Recent / Inform

Marine turtles dying after becoming entangled in plastic rubbish

December 19th, 2017

Hundreds of marine turtles die every year after becoming entangled in rubbish in the oceans and on beaches, including plastic ‘six pack’ holders and discarded fishing gear.

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MRSA risk at northeast Ohio beaches

December 19th, 2017

A study conducted in 2015 shows a higher-than-expected prevalence of Staphylococcus aureus and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) at beaches around Lake Erie.

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‘Sand mattress’ technology to combat Mother Nature at Kuhio Beach

December 18th, 2017

Erosion in Waikiki has been a long-time concern and the City and County of Honolulu is once again looking for solutions to combat the problem.

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An American beach story: when property rights clash with the rising sea

December 18th, 2017

Rising sea levels driven by climate change are forcing communities like Humarock to confront a troubling future. The global water line has risen by about 8 inches on average since 1900, and it’s expected to rise about that much or more by 2050.

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Sand in the gears of climate change

December 17th, 2017

For decades it’s been well understood that soft-sand beaches move — and that hard structures like concrete sea walls and stone jetties can in fact accelerate erosion. With climate change — rising sea levels and more frequent violent storms — the inevitable beach erosion and migration has only increased.

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The sands of time

December 15th, 2017

Human intervention to control beach depth is often futile. Repeated studies have found that sand pumped onto beaches in order to protect coastal property may be washed out by a storm or two. These beaches commonly lose all the new sand in five years or so.

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Every grain of sand is a metropolis for bacteria

December 14th, 2017

Between 10,000 and 100,000 microorganisms live on each single grain of sand, as revealed in a new study. Sand-dwelling bacteria play an important role in the marine ecosystem and global material cycles.

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‘King tides’ are rising, so groups span globe to monitor it

December 13th, 2017

From coast to coast, hundreds of tide watchers come out with their cameras to record the latest ‘king tides,’ brief episodes of tidal flooding that could become the norm, with expected sea-level rise.

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Can Data Save Dolphins? How Scientists Are Using NASA Data to Study Link Between Solar Storms and Animal Beachings

December 11th, 2017

The age-old mystery of why otherwise healthy dolphins, whales and porpoises get stranded along coasts worldwide deepens: New research suggests space weather is not the primary cause of animal beachings — but the research continues. The collaboration is now seeking others to join their search for the factors that send ocean mammals off course, in the hopes of perhaps one day predicting strandings before they happen.

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The Birth of a New Island; 2 videos by NASA Goddard Space Center

December 11th, 2017

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai is the first island of this type to erupt and persist in the modern satellite era. It was initially projected to last a few months. Now it has a 6- to 30-year lease on life and gives scientists an unprecedented view from space of its early life and evolution.

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