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

Domino Effect: The Myriad Impacts of Warming on an East Coast Estuary

Delaware Bay provides a case study in how warming oceans, more severe storms, and sea-level rise are impacting estuaries around the world. The effects — from loss of wetlands to steep declines in shorebird populations — cascade throughout the ecosystem.

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No escaping ocean plastic: 37 million bits of litter on one of world’s remotest islands

News, Pollution
May
16

The beaches of one of the world’s most remote islands have been found to be polluted with the highest density of plastic debris reported anywhere on the planet, a new study shows.

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Concrete, or Beaches? World’s Sand Running Out As Global Construction Booms

A crucial component of concrete, sand is vital to the global construction industry.

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Migratory seabird deaths linked to hurricanes

Stronger and more frequent hurricanes may pose a new threat to the sooty tern, a species of migratory seabird found throughout the Caribbean and Mid-Atlantic, a new study reveals. Although sooty terns are neither rare nor endangered, they have long been used by scientists as an indicator species to determine the health of the region’s marine environment.

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Rewilding Santa Monica’s thoroughly artificial beach

In the early 1900s, L.A. County beaches were not yet the tourist destination they would one day become. To draw more tourists, local municipalities wanted the beaches of the Santa Monica Bay to mimic those on the nation’s opposite coast: bigger, flatter, wider. Beach managers decided then, to bend the area’s geology, making Southern California beaches take on a more Floridian aesthetic. It was built by moving sand from one place and dumping it into another, turning the tourist-friendly beach into an ecological wasteland.

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50 years ago, Oregon’s beach battle kept sands open to everyone

Inform
May
11

The Beach Bill gave Oregonians ownership of the state’s beaches, and that’s a rare distinction. Only Hawaii has similar protection, and our unlimited access to the beach has made the Oregon Coast a big tourist destination.

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Threatened bird nesting again on Los Angeles area beaches

The western snowy plover is nesting along the Los Angeles area coast for the first time in nearly seven decades, federal officials said.

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Striking Photos Show The People v. Climate Change; National Geographic

An incredibly complex web of cause and effect that’s global in scope, climate change is like light itself: enormously present, yet difficult to directly perceive. The Your Shot community shared their best photos in response to our #MyClimateAction challenge.

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Cemex sand mine accused of damaging Monterey Bay Coast

Scientists and environmentalists are accusing Cemex, the world’s second largest building materials company, of doing serious harm to the Monterey Bay beach by removing massive amounts of sand. The company claims its sand mining business is legal, but the beach is shrinking, and the California Coastal Commission is threatening to shut down the operation.

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Recent / Inform

Migratory seabird deaths linked to hurricanes

May 12th, 2017

Stronger and more frequent hurricanes may pose a new threat to the sooty tern, a species of migratory seabird found throughout the Caribbean and Mid-Atlantic, a new study reveals. Although sooty terns are neither rare nor endangered, they have long been used by scientists as an indicator species to determine the health of the region’s marine environment.

Read More

Rewilding Santa Monica’s thoroughly artificial beach

May 11th, 2017

In the early 1900s, L.A. County beaches were not yet the tourist destination they would one day become. To draw more tourists, local municipalities wanted the beaches of the Santa Monica Bay to mimic those on the nation’s opposite coast: bigger, flatter, wider. Beach managers decided then, to bend the area’s geology, making Southern California beaches take on a more Floridian aesthetic. It was built by moving sand from one place and dumping it into another, turning the tourist-friendly beach into an ecological wasteland.

Read More

50 years ago, Oregon’s beach battle kept sands open to everyone

May 11th, 2017

The Beach Bill gave Oregonians ownership of the state’s beaches, and that’s a rare distinction. Only Hawaii has similar protection, and our unlimited access to the beach has made the Oregon Coast a big tourist destination.

Read More

Threatened bird nesting again on Los Angeles area beaches

May 10th, 2017

The western snowy plover is nesting along the Los Angeles area coast for the first time in nearly seven decades, federal officials said.

Read More

Striking Photos Show The People v. Climate Change; National Geographic

May 10th, 2017

An incredibly complex web of cause and effect that’s global in scope, climate change is like light itself: enormously present, yet difficult to directly perceive. The Your Shot community shared their best photos in response to our #MyClimateAction challenge.

Read More

Cemex sand mine accused of damaging Monterey Bay Coast

May 9th, 2017

Scientists and environmentalists are accusing Cemex, the world’s second largest building materials company, of doing serious harm to the Monterey Bay beach by removing massive amounts of sand. The company claims its sand mining business is legal, but the beach is shrinking, and the California Coastal Commission is threatening to shut down the operation.

Read More

Port Launay: The Last Mangroves of the Seychelles

May 8th, 2017

When French settlers first arrived in the remote islands of the Seychelles, thick mangrove forests fringed the western shore of Mahe, the largest of the islands in the archipelago.

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Affluent countries contribute less to wildlife conservation than the rest of the world

May 8th, 2017

A new research collaboration has found that, despite facing a number of domestic challenges, such as poverty and political instability in many parts of the continent, Africa was found to prioritise wildlife preservation, and contribute more to conservation than any other region of the world. African countries made up four of the five top-performing mega-fauna conservation nations…

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Believe you can stop climate change and you will

May 4th, 2017

If we believe that we can personally help stop climate change with individual actions — such as turning the thermostat down — then we are more likely to make a difference, according to new research.

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County warns businesses to stop mining sand, Maui

May 3rd, 2017

While sand mining is not illegal here, some community members are concerned about the resource being depleted and shipped off-island and archaeological damage. Mayor Alan Arakawa is among the concerned, saying the sand is needed for Maui projects and replenishing beaches.

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