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

From destruction, creation: A new black sand beach is born on the island of Hawaii

Inform
Jan
6

The eight-mile-long river of lava that poured down the slopes of Kilauea volcano on the island of Hawaii last spring destroyed nearly everything in its path. But part of what it left behind offers a glimmer of hope for the battered land and economy: a new black sand beach.

Comments Off on From destruction, creation: A new black sand beach is born on the island of Hawaii

Microplastics and plastic additives discovered in ascidians all along Israel’s coastline

News, Pollution
Jan
5

A new study finds that microplastics — tiny pieces of plastic ingested by aquatic life — are present in solitary ascidians, sac-like marine invertebrate filter feeders, all along the Israeli coastline. The research also confirmed the presence of plastic additives, i.e. ‘plasticizers,’ in ascidians.

Comments Off on Microplastics and plastic additives discovered in ascidians all along Israel’s coastline

In India, Nature’s Power Overwhelms Engineered Wetlands

The picturesque Kerala backwaters in southern India, increasingly popular with tourists, form a network of engineered canals, lagoons, lakes, and rice paddies. But a fatal monsoon deluge has highlighted the global problem of how developed wetlands often lose their capacity to absorb major floods.

Comments Off on In India, Nature’s Power Overwhelms Engineered Wetlands

Seagrass saves beaches and money

Seagrass beds are so effective in protecting tropical beaches from erosion, that they can reduce the need for regular, expensive beach nourishments that are used now. Biologists and engineers from the Netherlands and Mexico describe experiments and field observations around the Caribbean Sea.

Comments Off on Seagrass saves beaches and money

California’s coastal habitats face existential threat from rising seas

Climate change is transforming the state’s coast but with habitats hemmed in by cliffs, condos and farms, pre-emptive action is needed to preserve biodiversity.

Comments Off on California’s coastal habitats face existential threat from rising seas

The Cement Industry, One of the World’s Largest CO2 Emitters, Pledges to Cut Greenhouse Gases

News, Sand Mining
Dec
31

Cement is the second most-consumed resource in the world, with more than 4 billion tons of the material produced globally every year. As a result, the industry generates approximately 8 percent of global CO2 emissions.

Comments Off on The Cement Industry, One of the World’s Largest CO2 Emitters, Pledges to Cut Greenhouse Gases

Life without plastic: pioneer families show how it’s done

Inform, Pollution
Dec
30

As public anger grows over the environmental impact of single-use plastic, trying to live plastic-free and more sustainably has become a mainstream concept.

Comments Off on Life without plastic: pioneer families show how it’s done

Marine debris study counts trash from Texas to Florida

News, Pollution
Dec
29

Trash, particularly plastic, in the ocean and along the shoreline is an economic, environmental, human health, and aesthetic problem causing serious challenges to coastal communities around the world.

Comments Off on Marine debris study counts trash from Texas to Florida

‘It’s warm water now’: climate change strands sea turtles on Cape Cod shores

At the New England Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital in a repurposed shipyard building south of Boston, the casualties of climate change swim in tanks as they recover after being pulled stunned from the beach.

Comments Off on ‘It’s warm water now’: climate change strands sea turtles on Cape Cod shores

Recent / Inform

California’s coastal habitats face existential threat from rising seas

January 2nd, 2019

Climate change is transforming the state’s coast but with habitats hemmed in by cliffs, condos and farms, pre-emptive action is needed to preserve biodiversity.

Read More

The Cement Industry, One of the World’s Largest CO2 Emitters, Pledges to Cut Greenhouse Gases

December 31st, 2018

Cement is the second most-consumed resource in the world, with more than 4 billion tons of the material produced globally every year. As a result, the industry generates approximately 8 percent of global CO2 emissions.

Read More

Life without plastic: pioneer families show how it’s done

December 30th, 2018

As public anger grows over the environmental impact of single-use plastic, trying to live plastic-free and more sustainably has become a mainstream concept.

Read More

Marine debris study counts trash from Texas to Florida

December 29th, 2018

Trash, particularly plastic, in the ocean and along the shoreline is an economic, environmental, human health, and aesthetic problem causing serious challenges to coastal communities around the world.

Read More

‘It’s warm water now’: climate change strands sea turtles on Cape Cod shores

December 26th, 2018

At the New England Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital in a repurposed shipyard building south of Boston, the casualties of climate change swim in tanks as they recover after being pulled stunned from the beach.

Read More

Japan confirms it will quit IWC to resume commercial whaling

December 26th, 2018

Japan is facing international condemnation after confirming it will resuming commercial whaling for the first time in more than 30 years.

Read More

The Marshall Islands: A nation that fears it’s on the brink of extinction

December 24th, 2018

In a battle between man and nature, officials say climate change is threatening the islands’ existence. The most extreme predictions say that rising sea levels could make the nation uninhabitable as soon as 2030.

Read More

As Polar Bear Attacks Increase in Warming Arctic, a Search for Solutions

December 22nd, 2018

With sea ice reduced, polar bears in the Arctic are spending more time on land, leading to increased attacks on people. Concerned Inuit communities want to increase hunting quotas, but researchers are testing new technologies they hope will reduce these often deadly confrontations.

Read More

Loss of intertidal ecosystem exposes coastal communities

south california coastal erosion

December 20th, 2018

Artificial intelligence and extensive satellite imagery have allowed researchers to map the world’s intertidal zones for the first time, revealing a significant loss of the crucial ecosystem. The study has shown that global foreshore environments declined by up to 16 percent between 1984 and 2016.

Read More

Why is sea level rising faster in some places along the US East Coast than others?

December 19th, 2018

Sea levels are rising globally from ocean warming and melting of land ice, but the seas aren’t rising at the same rate everywhere. Sea levels have risen significantly faster in some U.S. East Coast regions compared to others.

Read More


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