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

Conserving Canada’s Diverse Marine Life

Despite the deep, cold waters, newly discovered undersea mountains off Canada’s west coast are home to a rich diversity of life. The recently designated Offshore Pacific Area of Interest, is a 140,000 square kilometre region 100 to 200 kilometres west of Vancouver Island in the province of British Columbia.

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Coastal Warning: An Unwelcome Messenger on the Risks of Rising Seas; By Orrin H. Pilkey

Marine scientist Orrin Pilkey has long been cautioning about sea level rise and the folly of building and rebuilding along coastlines. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he talks about why an eventual retreat from oceanfront property on the U.S. coast is inevitable.

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The ‘great dying’: rapid warming caused largest extinction event ever, report says

Up to 96% of all marine species and more than two-thirds of terrestrial species perished 252m years ago. Rapid global warming caused the largest extinction event in the Earth’s history, which wiped out the vast majority of marine and terrestrial animals on the planet, scientists have found.

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What seabirds can tell us about the tide

Inform
Nov
29

A study, aimed to track tagged seabirds’ behaviour and movements along the coast, revealed that, at night, these seabirds spent a lot of their time idle on the sea surface. Using seabirds to tell us about the tide could be especially useful for the marine renewable energy industry. Generating tidal energy requires detailed knowledge of current speeds.

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Marine waste is turning the Earth into a plastic planet

News, Pollution
Nov
29

The Ocean Atlas published by the German Heinrich Boll Foundation, an independent international green think tank for policy reform and the University of Kiel’s Future Ocean Cluster of Excellence, lists the top 20 nations with the worst plastic waste mismanagement around the world.

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After a Long Boom, an Uncertain Future for Big Dam Projects

Dam, Erosion, Inform
Nov
28

The rise of wind and solar power, coupled with the increasing social, environmental and financial costs of hydropower projects, could spell the end of an era of big dams. But even anti-dam activists say it’s too early to declare the demise of large-scale hydro.

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How plastic waste moves in the environment

News, Pollution
Nov
28

A researcher for the first time has modeled how microplastic fibers move through the environment. The work could someday help communities better understand and reduce plastics pollution, which is a growing problem around the world.

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Managing wastewater to support coral reef health, resilience

Coral reefs provide food and livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people around the world, support more than a quarter of all marine life, and protect communities and coastlines from natural disasters—and if urgent action is not taken, we risk losing them forever.

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Cruise ship captain fined €100,000 for using dirty fuel

News, Pollution
Nov
26

The captain of a cruise ship found to be burning fuel with excessive sulphur levels has been fined €100,000 in a Marseille court, the first such ruling in France. The prosecution was intended to signal a new seriousness in tackling pollution from cruise ships.

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Recent / Inform

Coastal Warning: An Unwelcome Messenger on the Risks of Rising Seas; By Orrin H. Pilkey

December 6th, 2018

Marine scientist Orrin Pilkey has long been cautioning about sea level rise and the folly of building and rebuilding along coastlines. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he talks about why an eventual retreat from oceanfront property on the U.S. coast is inevitable.

Read More

The ‘great dying’: rapid warming caused largest extinction event ever, report says

December 6th, 2018

Up to 96% of all marine species and more than two-thirds of terrestrial species perished 252m years ago. Rapid global warming caused the largest extinction event in the Earth’s history, which wiped out the vast majority of marine and terrestrial animals on the planet, scientists have found.

Read More

What seabirds can tell us about the tide

November 29th, 2018

A study, aimed to track tagged seabirds’ behaviour and movements along the coast, revealed that, at night, these seabirds spent a lot of their time idle on the sea surface. Using seabirds to tell us about the tide could be especially useful for the marine renewable energy industry. Generating tidal energy requires detailed knowledge of current speeds.

Read More

Marine waste is turning the Earth into a plastic planet

November 29th, 2018

The Ocean Atlas published by the German Heinrich Boll Foundation, an independent international green think tank for policy reform and the University of Kiel’s Future Ocean Cluster of Excellence, lists the top 20 nations with the worst plastic waste mismanagement around the world.

Read More

After a Long Boom, an Uncertain Future for Big Dam Projects

November 28th, 2018

The rise of wind and solar power, coupled with the increasing social, environmental and financial costs of hydropower projects, could spell the end of an era of big dams. But even anti-dam activists say it’s too early to declare the demise of large-scale hydro.

Read More

How plastic waste moves in the environment

November 28th, 2018

A researcher for the first time has modeled how microplastic fibers move through the environment. The work could someday help communities better understand and reduce plastics pollution, which is a growing problem around the world.

Read More

Managing wastewater to support coral reef health, resilience

November 27th, 2018

Coral reefs provide food and livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people around the world, support more than a quarter of all marine life, and protect communities and coastlines from natural disasters—and if urgent action is not taken, we risk losing them forever.

Read More

Cruise ship captain fined €100,000 for using dirty fuel

November 26th, 2018

The captain of a cruise ship found to be burning fuel with excessive sulphur levels has been fined €100,000 in a Marseille court, the first such ruling in France. The prosecution was intended to signal a new seriousness in tackling pollution from cruise ships.

Read More

145 pilot whales die in stranding on New Zealand beach

November 26th, 2018

A group of 145 pilot whales stranded themselves on a remote New Zealand beach and died.

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‘Washaway Beach,’ fastest-eroding place on the West Coast, cobbles together a solution

November 24th, 2018

There’s a reason a quiet and desolate strip of sand here is nicknamed Washaway Beach. Coastal erosion has claimed an average of 100 feet of this shoreline every year for the last century. That makes North Cove the fastest-eroding place on the West Coast.

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