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

10,000 Pounds of Ocean Plastic Is Turned Into a Leaping 38-Foot-Tall Whale

News, Pollution
Jun
30

In response to the estimated 150 million tons of plastic trash currently in the ocean, Brooklyn-based architecture and design firm StudioKCA has created an incredible installation for the Bruges Triennial. Skyscraper (the Bruges Whale) is a 38-foot-tall whale fabricated from 5 tons of plastic waste found from the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans.

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China just handed the World a 111-million-ton trash problem

News, Pollution
Jun
25

The world’s biggest waste importer is no longer buying. So where’s all that trash going to go?

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Coral reefs ‘will be overwhelmed by rising oceans

Scientists have uncovered a new threat to the world’s endangered coral reefs. They have found that most are incapable of growing quickly enough to compensate for rising sea levels triggered by global warming.

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Beachgoers Beware? 5 Pathogens That Lurk In Sand

Inform, Pollution
Jun
23

Although most microbes in the sand are harmless, some are linked with disease. Here are five types of pathogens found in sand.

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13 of the dirtiest beaches in the world

News, Pollution
Jun
22

Wide scale pollution has turned some of the world’s most beautiful beaches into trash heaps.

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Scientists calculate impact of China’s ban on plastic waste imports

News, Pollution
Jun
21

Scientists have calculated the potential global impact of China’s ban on plastic waste imports and how this policy might affect efforts to reduce the amount of plastic waste entering the world’s landfills and natural environment.

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Heading to the beach? Get ready for thick, slimy seaweed

Thick mats of seaweed have washed up on South Florida beaches in recent weeks, creating a tangled, squishy barrier between swimmers and the ocean.

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How one man died so a whale might live

Humans have spent more than 10 centuries emptying the ocean of some of its most extraordinary animals. Today, a coalition of scientists and fishermen are trying to turn the tide – and learning that conservation is much harder than destruction

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Ex-Nasa scientist: 30 years on, world is failing ‘miserably’ to address climate change

Thirty years after a former Nasa scientist sounded the alarm for the general public about climate change and human activity, the expert issued a fresh warning that the world is failing “miserably” to deal with the worsening dangers.

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Recent / Inform

Sea level rise study shows Charleston area one of the riskiest places to live in Southeast

June 18th, 2018

Within the next three decades, nearly 8,000 homes in Charleston County, SC, could flood at least 26 times a year if the sea level rises by 2 feet, considered by climate experts to be a worst-case scenario.

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European fishermen mobilize against electric fishing

June 18th, 2018

Small-scale and traditional fishermen across the European Union are mobilizing in several European ports this Monday to complain against electric fishing and to call on public decision-makers to definitively ban this destructive fishing technique.

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Flooding from sea level rise threatens over 300,000 US coastal homes – study

June 18th, 2018

Sea level rise driven by climate change is set to pose an existential crisis to many US coastal communities, with new research finding that as many as 311,000 homes face being flooded every two weeks within the next 30 years.

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You Are More Powerful than You Think

June 15th, 2018

Just like every raindrop counts towards a river and every vote counts in an election, so does every choice you make in what you consume. With every produce you consume, you strengthen the river of sustainability or of unsustainability.

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Coastal communities saw record number of high tide flooding days last year

June 14th, 2018

People living on the coast may see flooded sidewalks and streets more frequently this year due, in part, to El Nino conditions that are predicted to develop later this year, and from long-term sea level rise trends.

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Rate of Antarctica’s ice melting has tripled since 2012, study finds

June 13th, 2018

The rate at which ice is melting on Antarctica has tripled in recent years, according to a study published Wednesday in Nature. Coastal communities along the U.S. could feel the impact of a continued increase as melting ice adds to sea level rise, say experts.

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Mysterious masses of seaweed assault Caribbean islands

June 12th, 2018

The Caribbean is bracing for what could be the mother of all seaweed invasions, with satellite observations warning of record-setting Sargassum ​blooms and seaweed already swamping beaches.

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Whale found In Thailand dies from eating over 80 plastic bags

June 9th, 2018

Rescuers unsuccessfully tried to nurse the male pilot whale back to health. A necropsy revealed over 17 pounds of plastic, including more than 80 plastic bags, in the whale’s stomach.

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3 SoCal Beaches Among the Most Polluted in the State

June 9th, 2018

Three Southern California beaches are among the 10 most polluted in the state.

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Florida has spent more than $100 million pouring more sand onto beaches in the past three years. Is it time to wave a white flag?

June 9th, 2018

In South Florida’s war against the tides, it may be time to recognize that discretion is the better part of valor. For the past 70 years, the state of Florida has spent more than $1.3 billion on packing sand onto eroding beaches.

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