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

Seven Billion And Counting

How is the changing global population affecting people’s daily lives? With the UN set to announce that there are now seven billion people on the planet, BBC News reporters spoke to seven people from around the world to hear their stories.

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Thailand floods’ Shut Down Bangkok’s Second Airport

Advancing floodwaters in Thailand breached barriers protecting Bangkok’s second airport, in Don Muang, Tuesday. Don Muang has come to symbolize the gravity of the Southeast Asian nation’s deepening crisis, which has seen advancing waters drown a third of the country and kill 366 people over the last three months.

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Up to 20 million tons of debris from Japan’s tsunami moving toward Hawaii

Up to 20 million tons of debris from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March, is traveling faster than expected and could reach the U.S. West Coast in three years. The marine debris were recently spotted by a Russian ship’s crew.

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NZ, Almost 500 Tonnes Of Oil Pumped From Rena Cargo Ship

News, Pollution

481 tonnes of oil has been pumped from the stricken ship Rena, which originally held 772 tonnes of oil, as the salvage operation accelerates. 10 tonnes of fuel oil escaped the beleaguered ship on Saturday night and yesterday morning, and was being swept north by the tide, towards Mayor Island, a wildlife refuge and marine reserve.

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Stressors To Florida Keys Marine Ecosystem, A Study

NOAA scientists have found that pressure from increasing coastal populations, ship and boat groundings, marine debris, poaching, and climate change are critically threatening the health of the Florida Keys ecosystem. Many historically abundant marine resources such as green sea turtles and coral habitat continue to be at risk with low rates of recovery.

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Loving the Chambered Nautilus to Death

It is a living fossil whose ancestors go back a half billion years, to the early days of complex life on the planet, when the land was barren and the seas were warm. Nautilus lives on the slopes of deep coral reefs in the warm southwestern Pacific, but scientists say humans are loving the chambered nautilus to death, throwing its very existence into danger.

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Bioluminescence: Explanation for Glowing Waves Suggested

It has long been known that distinctive blue flashes, a type of bioluminescence, that are visible at night in some marine environments are caused by tiny, unicellular plankton known as dinoflagellates. However, a new study has, for the first time, detailed the potential mechanism for this bioluminescence.

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Accumulation of Microplastic on Shorelines Woldwide: Sources and Sinks

News, Pollution

Scientists are reporting that household washing machines seem to be a major source of so-called “microplastic” pollution, bits of polyester and acrylic smaller than the head of a pin, that they now have detected on the shorelines at 18 sites worldwide representing six continents from the poles to the equator, with more material in densely populated areas.

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Hawaii’s coral reef ecosystems worth $33.57 billion per year

A peer-reviewed study commissioned by NOAA shows the American people assign an estimated total economic value of $33.57 billion for the coral reefs of the main Hawaiian Islands.

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Recent / Inform

New Beach Sand Mining Restriction in The Turks and Caicos

October 9th, 2010

Measures are being put in place to regulate beach sand mining in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

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Solar Power in the Maldives

October 7th, 2010

With hardly any land more than 8 feet above sea level, thus particularly vulnerable should seas rise several feet by the end of the century, the Maldives stands at the front line of climate change, and has announced plans to green its energy sector and pledged under the Copenhagen Accord to become carbon neutral by 2020.

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Sea level rise in Norway in the 21st century

October 6th, 2010

The tables show estimated values for sea level rise, land rise and flooding for the years 2050 and 2100.

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How sand mining mafia is plundering beaches and creeks

October 6th, 2010

The entire coastal region in India, especially the west coast, will be denuded of natural sand, if the sector is not regulated. Most of Maharashtra’s beaches will resemble lunar surfaces, with the sand mined completely, leaving only a rocky shore.

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Louisiana Curtails Coastal Plan

October 6th, 2010

Officials are temporarily scaling back their ambitions for a massive sand berms program that was designed to block oil from hitting coastal marshes but that continues to draw federal opposition.

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Lagos Expansion Into Atlantic Ocean, Nigeria

October 5th, 2010

By 2016, Lagos will get a new city to be built on nine million square metres of reclaimed land about 2.4 kilometres into the Atlantic Ocean, south of Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island.

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Global Groundwater Depletion Leads to Sea Level Rise

October 4th, 2010

Scientists have conducted a global assessment on the current large-scale abstraction of groundwater worldwide, and the effect of groundwater depletion on sea level rise, with remarkable results.

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Mechanised Sand Mining to Attract Criminal Action

October 2nd, 2010

Facing strong criticism from the Opposition and environmentalists over wisespread quarrying of sand in the Tamirabarani river basin in Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts and Palar river basin in Vellore and Kanchipuram, chief minister M. Karunanidhi ordered the ban on mechanised sand quarrying.

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New York Seas to Rise Twice as Much as Rest of U.S.

October 2nd, 2010

Sea levels around New York City and much of the U.S. Northeast will rise twice as much as in other parts of the United States this century, according to new climate models.

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Copenhagen Accord Loopholes and Risks to the “Rainforests of the Sea”

October 2nd, 2010

A global temperature increase of up to 4.2 º C and the end of coral reefs, the “Rainforests of the Sea,” could become reality by 2100 if national targets are not revised in the Copenhagen Accord.

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