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

Higher seas to flood dozens of US cities, study says; is yours one of them?

For the past several years, scientists have been trying to get people to wake up to the dangers that lie ahead in rising seas due to climate change. A comprehensive list now names hundreds of US cities, large and small, that may not make it through the next 20, 50 or 80 years due to sea level rise.

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23 of the cleanest beaches to visit in Cornwall this summer, UK

Celebrate, Inform
Jul
31

Cornwall has more miles of coastline and more Blue Flag beaches than anywhere else in the UK, plus hundreds of hidden coves that are simply beautiful.

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Column: High-rises spell the end for Florida beaches; By Orrin H. Pilkey and J. Andrew G. Cooper

Floridians are becoming more attuned to sea level rise and more familiar with nuisance flooding related to the rising sea. However, we believe there is less recognition that by century’s end it is likely that most of Florida’s major beaches will be permanently gone.

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Trouble in paradise: the Canary Island beach accused of illegally importing sand

News, Sand Mining
Jul
29

Investigation launched into allegations that sand in Gran Canaria resort was sourced from Africa’s last colony, in breach of international law.

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Where global warming gets real: inside Nasa’s mission to the north pole

For 10 years, Nasa has been flying over the ice caps to chart their retreat. This data is an invaluable record of climate change…

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When the Land Stains the Sea

Inform
Jul
29

Where Pakistan’s coast meets the Arabian Sea, arid terrain contrasts sharply with the open waters beyond it. Sometimes the two overlap, and the land bleeds into the water.

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Seawalls: Ecological effects of coastal armoring in soft sediment environments

For nearly a century, America’s coasts — particularly those with large urban populations — have been armored with human made structures such as seawalls. These structures essentially draw a line in the sand that constrains the ability of the shoreline to respond to changes in sea level and other dynamic coastal processes.

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Plastic garbage patch bigger than Mexico found in Pacific

News, Pollution
Jul
25

Yet another floating mass of microscopic plastic has been discovered in the ocean, and it is mind-blowingly vast.

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The Remote Paradise with a Plastic Problem

Inform, Pollution
Jul
24

In the middle of the South Pacific Ocean, far from the urban, developed world, there is a small, lush, green island with white sand beaches. However, this uninhabited, remote corner of the tropics—Henderson Island—also has a trash problem.

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Recent / Inform

Column: High-rises spell the end for Florida beaches; By Orrin H. Pilkey and J. Andrew G. Cooper

July 29th, 2017

Floridians are becoming more attuned to sea level rise and more familiar with nuisance flooding related to the rising sea. However, we believe there is less recognition that by century’s end it is likely that most of Florida’s major beaches will be permanently gone.

Read More

Trouble in paradise: the Canary Island beach accused of illegally importing sand

July 29th, 2017

Investigation launched into allegations that sand in Gran Canaria resort was sourced from Africa’s last colony, in breach of international law.

Read More

Where global warming gets real: inside Nasa’s mission to the north pole

July 29th, 2017

For 10 years, Nasa has been flying over the ice caps to chart their retreat. This data is an invaluable record of climate change…

Read More

When the Land Stains the Sea

July 29th, 2017

Where Pakistan’s coast meets the Arabian Sea, arid terrain contrasts sharply with the open waters beyond it. Sometimes the two overlap, and the land bleeds into the water.

Read More

Seawalls: Ecological effects of coastal armoring in soft sediment environments

July 27th, 2017

For nearly a century, America’s coasts — particularly those with large urban populations — have been armored with human made structures such as seawalls. These structures essentially draw a line in the sand that constrains the ability of the shoreline to respond to changes in sea level and other dynamic coastal processes.

Read More

Plastic garbage patch bigger than Mexico found in Pacific

July 25th, 2017

Yet another floating mass of microscopic plastic has been discovered in the ocean, and it is mind-blowingly vast.

Read More

The Remote Paradise with a Plastic Problem

July 24th, 2017

In the middle of the South Pacific Ocean, far from the urban, developed world, there is a small, lush, green island with white sand beaches. However, this uninhabited, remote corner of the tropics—Henderson Island—also has a trash problem.

Read More

Sand is so important, people kill for it; plus more facts and figures about one of California’s greatest resources

July 22nd, 2017

Summer seems incomplete without a day at the beach with your toes in the sand. We know you’re there to relax and not think about much, but here are a few facts about sand.

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Another child run over in Volusia’s beach-driving ‘tradition’

July 21st, 2017

The story is any parent’s nightmare and yet all too common in Volusia County, one of the few places that invites motorists to drive cars on the same beaches where families relax and children frolic.

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Everything Worth Knowing About Sea Level Rise

July 20th, 2017

How many cities will our oceans swallow?

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