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

Laguna de Términos

Along the coast of southeast Mexico, in the state of Campeche, wetlands and rivers give way to a shallow, swirling body of water. At 2500 square kilometers, Laguna de Términos is Mexico’s largest coastal lagoon.

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Satellite photos reveal how Mumbai killed its mangrove forests to risk epic floods

Mumbai is essentially a peninsula jutting into the Arabian Sea. Since the 1980s, the city’s population has more than doubled. That’s led to rapid urbanisation of the surrounding areas, as well as encroachment of the mangroves on the city’s edges.

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The Next Houston

Even as Harvey lingers in the Gulf Coast, dumping rain on an already deluged region, the Atlantic hurricane season continues, and threatens to bring more nasty storms in short order. In the central Atlantic, Irma is some 3,000 miles southeast of Miami Wednesday afternoon, and is expected to become a hurricane later this week.

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Sand Mining: Growing Pains of Cross-Border Trade

News, Sand Mining
Aug
29

When powerful storms strike, like Typhoon Hato in southern China or Hurricane Harvey in Texas, the surging water scatters tons of sand – an essential ingredient required for the rebuilding soon to follow. Such storms add to growing global demand for sand with poor consequences for the economy and environment.

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Birling Gap beach: 150 treated after chemical ‘mist’, UK

News, Pollution
Aug
28

About 150 people have been treated in hospital and hundreds more affected by an unknown gas which hit the East Sussex coast.

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Kenya brings in world’s toughest plastic bag ban: Using plastic bags is illegal — and punishable by jail time

News, Pollution
Aug
28

No matter where you go in Kenya — from the vast expanses of the Great Rift Valley to the white-sand beaches off the Indian Ocean — one thing is a constant: plastic bags. But beginning today, almost all plastic bags are illegal in Kenya.

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Climate Refugees: Kiribati, Video

Scientists have said that the island nation, along with other low-lying Pacific nations, could be uninhabitable within decades. Sea level is rising 50 percent faster than it was 20 years ago and that is a real cause for alarm, so it is not a future thing we are really seeing that acceleration…

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New App enables divers to chart marine litter levels

News, Pollution
Aug
26

A new smartphone app is enabling scuba divers across the world to easily record information on the marine litter they encounter under the sea.

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US, Canada to investigate deaths of endangered whales

Marine authorities in the U.S. and Canada said Friday they will marshal resources to try to find out what’s behind a string of deaths of endangered North Atlantic right whales.

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Recent / Inform

Birling Gap beach: 150 treated after chemical ‘mist’, UK

August 28th, 2017

About 150 people have been treated in hospital and hundreds more affected by an unknown gas which hit the East Sussex coast.

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Kenya brings in world’s toughest plastic bag ban: Using plastic bags is illegal — and punishable by jail time

August 28th, 2017

No matter where you go in Kenya — from the vast expanses of the Great Rift Valley to the white-sand beaches off the Indian Ocean — one thing is a constant: plastic bags. But beginning today, almost all plastic bags are illegal in Kenya.

Read More

Climate Refugees: Kiribati, Video

August 27th, 2017

Scientists have said that the island nation, along with other low-lying Pacific nations, could be uninhabitable within decades. Sea level is rising 50 percent faster than it was 20 years ago and that is a real cause for alarm, so it is not a future thing we are really seeing that acceleration…

Read More

New App enables divers to chart marine litter levels

August 26th, 2017

A new smartphone app is enabling scuba divers across the world to easily record information on the marine litter they encounter under the sea.

Read More

US, Canada to investigate deaths of endangered whales

August 25th, 2017

Marine authorities in the U.S. and Canada said Friday they will marshal resources to try to find out what’s behind a string of deaths of endangered North Atlantic right whales.

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Why Sardinia’s tourists taking sand as souvenir face fine

August 24th, 2017

Famed for its pristine beaches, the Mediterranean island of Sardinia has hit back at holidaymakers who have been pinching its sand.

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Zeebrugge, Belgium

August 23rd, 2017

This Belgian town has just 4,000 inhabitants, but it takes 11,000 people to operate the port.

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Spectacular rebirth of Belize’s coral reefs threatened by tourism and development

August 22nd, 2017

Report reveals improvement but also details danger posed by tourist-generated pollution, oil extraction and climate change.

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A variety of maritime activities contribute to sea turtle deaths

August 22nd, 2017

Ask what water-based activity interacts the most with threatened and endangered sea turtles and many will reply without hesitation: commercial fishing. But state records show that to be incorrect.

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Kenya’s sand wars

August 19th, 2017

Communities are pitted against sand harvesters, powerful cartels and one another as demand for sand in Kenya grows.

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