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

A Russian village swallowed by sand

Shoyna, a Russian fishing village on the frigid shores of the White Sea, is slowly vanishing under sand that engulfs entire houses, their roofs just barely visible above the dunes.

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The Largest River Delta in Europe

Over the past century, the Volga Delta has grown from 3,222 square kilometers (1,244 square miles) in 1880 to 27,224 square kilometers (10,511 square miles) today. This significant growth is due both to sea level changes in the Caspian and the broad, gentle slope of the delta.

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Putting the brakes on fast fashion

marine-debris-orange
Inform, Pollution
Nov
12

The fashion industry produces 20 per cent of global wastewater and 10 per cent of global carbon emissions – more than all international flights and maritime shipping. Textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of water globally and it takes around 2,000 gallons of water to make a typical pair of jeans.

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The Caribbean island of Mayreau could be split in two due to erosion

After years of erosion by the waves, people living on Mayreau, an island in the southern Grenadines, are confronted with the real possibility that the sea will split their island in two, and destroy its world famous Salt Whistle Bay.

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Marine Protected Areas overlook a large fraction of biodiversity hotspots

Around 75 percent of marine biodiversity in Finnish waters is left unprotected, reveals a performance assessment of the country’s current Marine Protected Area network. Increasing protection by just 1 percent in the most biodiverse areas could double conservation of the most important species.

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Study tracks severe bleaching events on a Pacific coral reef over past century

A new study has uncovered the history of bleaching on a reef in the epicenter of El Nino, revealing how some corals have been able to return after facing extreme conditions.

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Cruise ship to provide ‘$2.1m undertaking’ after Great Barrier Reef spill

ocean giants
News, Pollution
Nov
8

Carnival Australia has been compelled to provide a “$2.1m undertaking” after spilling 28,000 litres of liquid food waste into the Great Barrier Reef’s protected waters.

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We made plastic. We depend on it. Now we’re drowning in it.

No one knows how much unrecycled plastic waste ends up in the ocean, Earth’s last sink.

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Decline in shorebirds linked to climate change, experts warn

Climate change could be responsible for a substantial decline in populations of shorebirds, say researchers from the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath, following a study published in Science analysing population data over a period of 70 years.

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Recent / Inform

The Caribbean island of Mayreau could be split in two due to erosion

November 11th, 2018

After years of erosion by the waves, people living on Mayreau, an island in the southern Grenadines, are confronted with the real possibility that the sea will split their island in two, and destroy its world famous Salt Whistle Bay.

Read More

Marine Protected Areas overlook a large fraction of biodiversity hotspots

November 10th, 2018

Around 75 percent of marine biodiversity in Finnish waters is left unprotected, reveals a performance assessment of the country’s current Marine Protected Area network. Increasing protection by just 1 percent in the most biodiverse areas could double conservation of the most important species.

Read More

Study tracks severe bleaching events on a Pacific coral reef over past century

November 9th, 2018

A new study has uncovered the history of bleaching on a reef in the epicenter of El Nino, revealing how some corals have been able to return after facing extreme conditions.

Read More

Cruise ship to provide ‘$2.1m undertaking’ after Great Barrier Reef spill

ocean giants

November 8th, 2018

Carnival Australia has been compelled to provide a “$2.1m undertaking” after spilling 28,000 litres of liquid food waste into the Great Barrier Reef’s protected waters.

Read More

We made plastic. We depend on it. Now we’re drowning in it.

November 8th, 2018

No one knows how much unrecycled plastic waste ends up in the ocean, Earth’s last sink.

Read More

Decline in shorebirds linked to climate change, experts warn

November 8th, 2018

Climate change could be responsible for a substantial decline in populations of shorebirds, say researchers from the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath, following a study published in Science analysing population data over a period of 70 years.

Read More

Modern slavery promotes overfishing

November 7th, 2018

Labour abuses, including modern slavery, are ‘hidden subsidies’ that allow distant-water fishing fleets to remain profitable and promote overfishing, new research from the University of Western Australia and the Sea Around Us initiative at the University of British Columbia has found.

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Coastal property was once king. Fears of climate change are undermining its value

November 6th, 2018

In a growing number of coastal communities, homes near the sea are appreciating more slowly than those inland. That’s bad news for people on the beach, good news for those farther away.

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Sighting of sperm whales in Arctic a sign of changing ecosystem, say scientists

November 5th, 2018

A rare sighting of sperm whales in the Canadian Arctic is the latest sign of a quickly changing ecosystem, say scientists, as a growing number of species expand their range into warming Arctic waters.

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Hydropower, innovations and avoiding international dam shame

November 5th, 2018

The benefits of energy from dams no longer outweigh the social and environmental costs that damming up rivers brings about.

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