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

Nags Heads Shoreline Losses A Lot Of Sand, And Money

Just weeks before the expected completion of a $36 million beach nourishment project, Hurricane Irene may have chewed away as much as 25 percent of the new sand pumped onto the Nags Head shoreline.

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Kiribati ponders floating island to fight sea rise

The Pacific Islands Forum opened with a passionate plea from Kiribati for help staving off rising seas caused by climate change, as he is considering ideas such as building a floating island…

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Fears in Miami That Port Expansion Will Destroy Reefs

As Miami prepares to dredge its port to accommodate supersize freighters, environmentalists are making a last-ditch effort to protect threatened coral reefs and acres of sea grass that they say would be destroyed by the expansion.

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Baltic Sea Countries Do Not Live Up To Commitments: WWF

The nine countries with a Baltic Sea coast are not doing enough to protect the very polluted body of water, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said in the Baltic Sea Scorecard 2011, a report that assesses how good the countries around the Baltic Sea are at implementing environmental measures and agreements.

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Haitian Divers Hope to Aid Ailing Reef

Environmental degradation is rife in Haiti, deforestation, erosion, pollution, and for the most part it is hard to miss. But for decades the country’s marine environment has suffered unseen. Its extensive coral reef system, an attraction to foreign scuba divers in the 1970s and ’80s, has largely died off, partly from sedimentation and climate change, but mostly from overfishing.

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Floating Cities: Strategies of Adaptation And Long-Lasting Anticipation ?

Climate change is redefining the rules by which we live and at a pace we never expected. Because of rising sea level, several areas of the globe are in danger of vanishing from the map, disappearing under water. Society must adapt and maybe, one day, live in floating houses. Emerging designs and technologies promote the concept of living with natural flooding instead of resisting it …

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Kelp Farming Is On Its Way

The Norwegian coastline, including all its islands, is twice as long as the Equator, thus possesses huge areas suitable for cultivating seaweed and kelp, and could provide two billion litres of kelp-based fuel a year, in a 15 million tons worldwide kelp-based industry. However, stricts quotas would need to be implemented as kelp forests are important nursery and feeding grounds for a wide range of invertebrates and fish…

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Toxic Algae Still Turns Brittany’s Beaches Green

News, Pollution

One year after the French Government launched a National Plan Against Green Algae, toxic seaweed which have accumulated on beaches in Brittany, are still causing great problems along the country’s coastlines. All summer long, there have been constant and costly efforts to remove tons of toxic algae from beaches, but no sooner than the seaweed is removed, more grows.

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Oil Pipeline From Alberta Tar Sands To Texas Coast: On Its Way To Final Approval

News, Pollution

In a blow to campaigners, the US State Department said the proposed 1,700-mile pipeline, that will pump oil from the tar sands of Alberta to the Texas coast, would not cause significant damage to the environment…

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Recent / Inform

48 Illegal Sand Mining Fields Found in Hunan, China

July 9th, 2010

Turning this key flood prevention battlefield into a money spinner for sandstone raiders.

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Mangrove forests in worldwide decline

July 3rd, 2010

The first ever assessment of mangrove species by the IUCN Red List found 11 out of 70 mangrove species threatened with extinction.

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Stunningly High Levels of Toxins Found in Whales

June 27th, 2010

The entire ocean life is loaded with a series of contaminants, most of which have been released by human beings.

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Sand mining ban for North Stradbroke Island, Australia

June 23rd, 2010

After 50 years of mining, Premier of Queensland, Anna Bligh, announced that the Government will progressively halt sand mining.

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Government of Morocco on Tar Sands potential.

June 19th, 2010

There are ten oil shale deposits in Morocco, and the three most-explored, and therefore the most likely to begin commercial production in the near future, are near the city of Tangier, near the Mediterranean sea.

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France’s continued fight against toxic algae

June 19th, 2010

The green algae are back on the front of the stage. Beyond their potential danger it is, this time, the costs of collection and treatment that are implicated.

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Lampung mangroves could be extinct in 5 years

June 18th, 2010

70 percent of mangrove forests in Lampung Province, Southern Sumatra, are currently in damaged condition.

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Coastal Devastation We Don’t Hear About

June 17th, 2010

Perhaps no place on earth has been as battered by oil spills as the Niger Delta, which has endured the equivalent of the Exxon Valdez spill every year for 50 years by some estimates.

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Snail and Coral Destruction

June 11th, 2010

A little-known marine snail may be destroying coral reefs at an alarming rate, scientists report.

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Corporations Won’t Self-Regulate

June 9th, 2010

The question haunting everyone is: how was this allowed to happen?

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Coastal Care junior
The World's Beaches
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