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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.


Surfing in / Inform

The sound of the sand from the Dutch shores

Inform
Sep
21

Sand, it turns out, has a signature sound of its own, and now scientists have found a way to tune in. In this study, scientists examine sand from the Dutch shores to link its unique acoustic traits to the source of the sand.

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Hurricane Nicole sheds light on how storms impact deep ocean

Inform
Sep
21

Hurricanes can cause significant damage to human structures on land, and often permanently alter terrestrial landscapes. But these powerful storms also affect the ocean.

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Actions to save coral reefs could benefit all ecosystems

Scientists say bolder actions to protect the world’s coral reefs will benefit all ecosystems, human livelihoods and improve food security.

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Coastal birds can weather the storm, but not the sea

Inform
Sep
18

How can birds that weigh less than a AA battery survive the immense power of Atlantic hurricanes?

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These little organisms are saving the coastlines from monster storms. Be nice to them

The catastrophe in the Bahamas shows more clearly than ever that coastal communities around the world are in dire peril from supercharged storms like Hurricane Dorian. They need to preserve and restore their first line of defense, wetlands and coral reefs. They need to build what scientists like me call coastal resilience.

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Is that a choir of Angels or just a day at the beach: Singing Sands you have to hear to believe

Celebrate, Inform
Sep
15

Even in their simplest forms, beaches are spectacular places. Some, however, claim an even more magical level of excellence thanks to peculiar properties boasted by their sands.

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Ocean trash is building up. This artist reveals what’s out there.

Barry Rosenthal started collecting plastic garbage on a New York shoreline. His photographs reveal the variety of water-borne trash.

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Four billion particles of microplastics discovered in major body of water

Pollution
Sep
13

While collecting water samples and plankton, researchers discovered a high concentration of microplastics, which are known to disrupt the marine food chain.

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Major Oil Spill on Grand Bahama Reaches the Ocean, Damages Coastline

News, Pollution
Sep
12

An oil spill caused by Cat 5 Hurricane Dorian has been spotted in the ocean and has damaged the Bahamas coastline, the Norwegian energy company that owns the oil storage facility, Equinor, confirmed on Wednesday, a week and a half after the hurricane blew the lids off of six massive crude oil tanks.

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Recent / Inform

Coastal birds can weather the storm, but not the sea

September 18th, 2019

How can birds that weigh less than a AA battery survive the immense power of Atlantic hurricanes?

Read More

These little organisms are saving the coastlines from monster storms. Be nice to them

September 16th, 2019

The catastrophe in the Bahamas shows more clearly than ever that coastal communities around the world are in dire peril from supercharged storms like Hurricane Dorian. They need to preserve and restore their first line of defense, wetlands and coral reefs. They need to build what scientists like me call coastal resilience.

Read More

Is that a choir of Angels or just a day at the beach: Singing Sands you have to hear to believe

September 15th, 2019

Even in their simplest forms, beaches are spectacular places. Some, however, claim an even more magical level of excellence thanks to peculiar properties boasted by their sands.

Read More

Ocean trash is building up. This artist reveals what’s out there.

September 14th, 2019

Barry Rosenthal started collecting plastic garbage on a New York shoreline. His photographs reveal the variety of water-borne trash.

Read More

Four billion particles of microplastics discovered in major body of water

September 13th, 2019

While collecting water samples and plankton, researchers discovered a high concentration of microplastics, which are known to disrupt the marine food chain.

Read More

Major Oil Spill on Grand Bahama Reaches the Ocean, Damages Coastline

September 12th, 2019

An oil spill caused by Cat 5 Hurricane Dorian has been spotted in the ocean and has damaged the Bahamas coastline, the Norwegian energy company that owns the oil storage facility, Equinor, confirmed on Wednesday, a week and a half after the hurricane blew the lids off of six massive crude oil tanks.

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Fukushima: Japan will dump radioactive water into Pacific

September 10th, 2019

The operator of the ruined Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will have to dump huge quantities of contaminated water from the site directly into the Pacific Ocean, Japan’s environment minister has said – a move that would enrage local fishermen.

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Crabs and shrimp are flocking to the Deepwater Horizon spill site to mate, and it’s making them sick Christina Zdanowicz-Profile-Image

September 10th, 2019

The site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has become a popular mating ground for deep-sea crabs and shrimp. Decomposing oil from the 2010 spill could be mimicking a sex hormone, and that’s what’s attracting these crustaceans to get frisky in this part of the Gulf, according to an August study published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

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Congress Must Vote to Protect America’s Coasts, Oceans, and Marine Life from Offshore Drilling – NRDC

September 9th, 2019

It is important our elected officials act now to protect our coast. The House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on two bills that would permanently protect coastal communities across America from the dangers of reckless offshore oil and gas drilling and costly oil spills.

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Great Barrier Reef health outlook downgraded to “very poor” due to ocean warming

August 30th, 2019

The government agency that manages Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has downgraded its outlook for the corals’ condition from “poor” to “very poor” due to warming oceans.

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