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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

Hong Kong’s Government Is Spending Billions Taking Land from the Sea

Through expensive, time intensive, and complicated land reclamation projects, Hong Kong is continually extending out and into the water, where there wasn’t land before.

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Climate change imperils one in four natural heritage sites: report

Climate change imperils one in four natural World Heritage sites, including coral reefs, glaciers, and wetlands—nearly double the number from just three years ago, a report said Monday.

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Venice Is Restricting Access to Cruise Ships

Italy’s transport minister announced this week that Venice will ban all cruise ships from entering the city center.

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Swallowed by the Sea: Where coastal infrastructure and jobs meet climate change

Erosion, Inform
Nov
11

Life is shifting fast for coastal communities in West Africa. In some areas, coastlines are eroding as much as 10 meters per year. Stronger storms and rising seas are wiping out homes, roads and buildings that have served as landmarks for generations.

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Great Barrier Reef protected zones help fish in even lightly exploited areas

Protected zones of the Great Barrier Reef benefit fish even at the relatively lightly-fished northern reefs, according to a new study.

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Protect Whales and Other Marine Mammals from Big Oil: NRDC

“Not a single marine mammal has gone extinct in U.S. waters since the Marine Mammal Protection Act was enacted 45 years ago. But all this could quickly change if Congress votes to gut this critical Act.” A call for action by NRDC.

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On N.H.’s Coast, Preparing for Future Storms with Grass, Sand and a Bit of Time

As New Hampshire’s coastline prepares for a world with rising seas and stronger storms, communities and homeowners have different options, none of them simple. But some scientists in New Hampshire are pitching a more natural approach. All it takes is a little grass and some time.

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Hundreds of Sea Turtles Found Dead

As many as 300 to 400 dead sea turtles were found off the coast of El Salvador in Jiquilisco Bay late last month.

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How can we save America’s vanishing beaches? California shows the way, according to Surfrider report

Shorelines are shrinking. Storms are flooding streets and battering homes. Coastlines around the country are being hit by climate change. And, perhaps surprisingly, California is offering an example of how the coast can be saved.

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Recent / Inform

Great Barrier Reef protected zones help fish in even lightly exploited areas

November 11th, 2017

Protected zones of the Great Barrier Reef benefit fish even at the relatively lightly-fished northern reefs, according to a new study.

Read More

Protect Whales and Other Marine Mammals from Big Oil: NRDC

November 10th, 2017

“Not a single marine mammal has gone extinct in U.S. waters since the Marine Mammal Protection Act was enacted 45 years ago. But all this could quickly change if Congress votes to gut this critical Act.” A call for action by NRDC.

Read More

On N.H.’s Coast, Preparing for Future Storms with Grass, Sand and a Bit of Time

November 9th, 2017

As New Hampshire’s coastline prepares for a world with rising seas and stronger storms, communities and homeowners have different options, none of them simple. But some scientists in New Hampshire are pitching a more natural approach. All it takes is a little grass and some time.

Read More

Hundreds of Sea Turtles Found Dead

November 9th, 2017

As many as 300 to 400 dead sea turtles were found off the coast of El Salvador in Jiquilisco Bay late last month.

Read More

How can we save America’s vanishing beaches? California shows the way, according to Surfrider report

November 9th, 2017

Shorelines are shrinking. Storms are flooding streets and battering homes. Coastlines around the country are being hit by climate change. And, perhaps surprisingly, California is offering an example of how the coast can be saved.

Read More

South Carolina not doing enough to protect beaches, report says

November 8th, 2017

South Carolina’s beach preparations are barely adequate to deal with worsening erosion, sea rise and intensifying storms, according to the latest Surfriders Foundation report.

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Study: NC gets ‘D’ for climate change policies

November 8th, 2017

Days after a federal report issued a harsh warning about climate change, an environmental group said North Carolina’s policies leave the state among the most ill-prepared on the East Coast to deal with the effects of rising seas.

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Line drawn on sand sales: EBay removes listings for sand purportedly from Hawaii beaches

November 6th, 2017

EBay has removed numerous listings advertising the sale of sand purported to be from Hawaii beaches, including iconic Papakolea Beach — also known as Green Sands Beach — after the Tribune-Herald inquired about the sand sales.

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Dramatic rise in plastic seabed litter around UK

November 4th, 2017

An average of 358 litter items were found per square kilometre of seabed in 2016, a 158% rise on the previous year, and 222% higher than the average for 1992-94. Almost 78% of the litter is plastic.

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While a new island grew, southern Hatteras was shrinking, NC

November 3rd, 2017

Whatever forces crafted the new, crescent-shaped island at Cape Point is steadily gulping down the south end of Hatteras Island, spitting aside trees, power poles and a popular route for off-road vehicles.

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