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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.


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Midway Journey II, An Environmental Tragedy Depicted

Pollution
Feb
7

Five media artists, led by photographer Chris Jordan, traveled to Midway Atoll to witness the catastrophic effect of our disposable culture on some of the world’s most beautiful and symbolic creatures. But even more, they embarked on an introspective journey to confront a vitally relevant question: In this time of unprecedented global crisis, how can we move through grief, denial, despair and immobility into new territories of acceptance, possibility, and wise action?

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Pollutants Threaten Mexico’s Coast: Study

News, Pollution
Feb
6

Pharmaceuticals, pesticides, chemical run-off from highways and many other pollutants infiltrate the giant aquifer under Mexico’s “Riviera Maya” coast, a new study shows.

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Cyclone Adds to Barrier Reef’s Flood Woes

Smashed coral fragments have already begun washing up on Australia northeastern’s beaches.

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Jamaica’s Land Reclamation and Coral reefs Damages

The problem-plagued Historic Falmouth Port has been plunged into a fresh round of controversy as green lobbyists are insisting that 20 hectares of coral and seagrass cover have been damaged due to the development.

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Pacific Northwest warned of climate change dangers

Washington state and the province of British Columbia launched a joint effort on Wednesday to warn residents of North America’s Pacific Northwest about the danger that climate change poses to coastal communities.

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Oysters Disappearing Worldwide: Study

A new, wide-ranging survey that compares the past and present condition of oyster reefs around the globe finds that more than 90 percent of former reefs have been lost in most of the bays and ecoregions where the prized molluscs were formerly abundant.

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Study shows rapid deforestation in Malaysia

New satellite imagery shows Malaysia is destroying forests more than three times faster than all of Asia combined, and its carbon-rich peat soils of the Sarawak coast are being stripped even faster, according to a study released today.

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First Artificial Island to Be Built In The Americas

Boskalis is sourcing the sand for the land reclamation process from its own borrow area…

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Surf’s Up: New Research Monitor Ocean Wave Behavior and Shore Impacts

Engineers have created a new type of “stereo vision” to use in studying ocean waves as they pound against the shore, providing a better way to understand and monitor this violent, ever-changing environment.

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Coastal Care junior
The World's Beaches
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