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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

Why Sardinia’s tourists taking sand as souvenir face fine

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

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Aug
23

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

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

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

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

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Whales turn tail at ocean mining noise

A new international study has measured the effect of loud sounds on migrating humpback whales as concern grows as oceans become noisier. Scientists have said one of the main sources of ocean noise was oil and gas exploration, due to geologists firing off loud acoustic air guns to probe the structure of the ocean floor in search of fossil fuels.

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Behind the Lens: Climate Refugees

Kiribati residents’ “carbon footprints” are among the lowest in the world. These are not people who travel by air or drive gas-guzzling vehicles. They’re not the big carbon polluters but they’re the ones who’ll be among the first to have their lives disrupted by climate change through rising sea levels and extreme weather…

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On North Carolina’s Outer Banks, A Preview Of What Might Be In Store For Mass. Barrier Beaches

The first truly global disaster resulting from climate change may come from rising sea levels. It’s a problem we will share with every coastal community on every continent.

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Mackenzie Meets Beaufort

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Aug
14

The Mackenzie River is the leading source of freshwater flowing into the Arctic Ocean. It’s also a leading source of sediment flowing into that basin.

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Recent / Inform

Whales turn tail at ocean mining noise

August 19th, 2017

A new international study has measured the effect of loud sounds on migrating humpback whales as concern grows as oceans become noisier. Scientists have said one of the main sources of ocean noise was oil and gas exploration, due to geologists firing off loud acoustic air guns to probe the structure of the ocean floor in search of fossil fuels.

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Behind the Lens: Climate Refugees

August 18th, 2017

Kiribati residents’ “carbon footprints” are among the lowest in the world. These are not people who travel by air or drive gas-guzzling vehicles. They’re not the big carbon polluters but they’re the ones who’ll be among the first to have their lives disrupted by climate change through rising sea levels and extreme weather…

Read More

On North Carolina’s Outer Banks, A Preview Of What Might Be In Store For Mass. Barrier Beaches

August 17th, 2017

The first truly global disaster resulting from climate change may come from rising sea levels. It’s a problem we will share with every coastal community on every continent.

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Mackenzie Meets Beaufort

August 14th, 2017

The Mackenzie River is the leading source of freshwater flowing into the Arctic Ocean. It’s also a leading source of sediment flowing into that basin.

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In Egypt, A Rising Sea — And Growing Worries About Climate Change’s Effects

August 13th, 2017

On Egypt’s Mediterranean coast, August should be prime tourist season. But the seaside restaurants in Alexandria are almost empty. According to the World Bank, Egypt is one of the countries that will be most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

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Marine noise pollution stresses and confuses fish

August 13th, 2017

Increased noise pollution in the oceans is confusing fish and compromising their ability to recognise and avoid predators.

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“Dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico is biggest ever

August 12th, 2017

Each summer, a large part of the Gulf of Mexico “dies”. This year, the Gulf’s “dead zone” is the largest on record, stretching from the mouth of the Mississippi, along the coast of Louisiana to waters off Texas, hundreds of miles away. Around 8,776 square miles of ocean, an area the size of New Jersey or Wales, is almost lifeless.

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Cause of Atlantic coastline’s sea level rise hot spots now revealed

August 10th, 2017

Seas rose in the southeastern US between 2011 and 2015 by more than six times the global average sea level rise that is already happening due to human-induced global warming, new research shows. The combined effects of El Niño (ENSO) and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), both of which are naturally occurring climate processes, drove this recent sea level rise hot spot, according to the study.

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No longer water under the bridge, statistics yields new data on sea levels

August 10th, 2017

While the scientific community has long warned about rising sea levels and their destructive impact on some of the United States’ most populous cities, researchers have developed a new, statistical method that more precisely calculates the rate of sea level rise, showing it’s not only increasing, but accelerating.

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Mangroves: A Star Player In The Coastal Protection Game

August 9th, 2017

They do it all: sequester greenhouse gases, protect marine life, maintain fresh water and, of course, defend against rising sea levels and storm surges.

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Coastal Care junior
The World's Beaches
Sand Mining
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