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

Slathering on sunscreen at the beach? It may be destroying coral reefs

Studies show that oxybenzone, a common chemical found particularly in spray-on sunscreens, contributes to coral bleaching and leaves reefs deformed.

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Orca pod filmed hunting whale calf in ‘unprecedented’ California killing spree

In an “unprecedented” rash of attacks, a pod of killer whales in Monterey Bay, California, has killed four gray whales in a week, a phenomenon one researcher hasn’t seen in her 30-year career.

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How Would Just 2 Degrees of Warming Change the Planet?

Why are climate scientists so alarmed about a worldwide temperature increase of just 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius)?

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Caribbean Scientists Work to Limit Climate Impact on Marine Environment

Caribbean scientists say fishermen are already seeing the effects of climate change, so for a dozen or so years they’ve been designing systems and strategies to reduce the impacts on the industry.

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In rare move, one South Florida city sues another in battle over beach erosion

A spat over sand in adjacent cities finally landed in court this week, and it already has cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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U.S. Study Shows Widening Disconnect with Nature, and Potential Solutions

A survey of 12,000 adults and children in the United States has shown that many people have lost a close connection with nature, although a wide cross-section of respondents expressed a desire to close that gap.

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Climate change could spell ‘extreme poverty’ in coastal NZ towns

Along New Zealand’s West Coast, the shoreline has been eroding for many years, the relentless sea moves closer by the day. Now the Tasman sea has snuck into some of the beach-front properties. With rising sea levels and more intense storms likely because of a warming climate, parts of Granity will become uninhabitable.

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The Arctic is a ‘dead end’ for ocean plastic

News, Pollution
Apr
27

According to a new study, the Arctic serves as a “dead end” for hordes of marine debris drifting through the North Atlantic. Even though very little plastic waste is discarded within the Arctic itself, it’s still carried there — and then stranded — by ocean currents.

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The Economist explains: Why there is a shortage of sand

It may be plentiful, but so is the demand for it.

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Recent / Inform

U.S. Study Shows Widening Disconnect with Nature, and Potential Solutions

April 28th, 2017

A survey of 12,000 adults and children in the United States has shown that many people have lost a close connection with nature, although a wide cross-section of respondents expressed a desire to close that gap.

Read More

Climate change could spell ‘extreme poverty’ in coastal NZ towns

April 27th, 2017

Along New Zealand’s West Coast, the shoreline has been eroding for many years, the relentless sea moves closer by the day. Now the Tasman sea has snuck into some of the beach-front properties. With rising sea levels and more intense storms likely because of a warming climate, parts of Granity will become uninhabitable.

Read More

The Arctic is a ‘dead end’ for ocean plastic

April 27th, 2017

According to a new study, the Arctic serves as a “dead end” for hordes of marine debris drifting through the North Atlantic. Even though very little plastic waste is discarded within the Arctic itself, it’s still carried there — and then stranded — by ocean currents.

Read More

The Economist explains: Why there is a shortage of sand

April 26th, 2017

It may be plentiful, but so is the demand for it.

Read More

Mapping the World’s Ocean Ecosystems

April 26th, 2017

To meet the need for a consistent, objective, and complete description of open-ocean environments, the USGS formed a public-private partnership with ESRI, NOAA, academia, and non-profit organizations to produce the first ever detailed maps that group the entire global ocean into 37 distinct 3D ecosystems.

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Chesapeake Bay pollution extends to early 19th century

April 26th, 2017

Humans began measurably and negatively impacting water quality in the Chesapeake Bay in the first half of the 19th century, according to a study of eastern oysters.

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Predicting the movement, impacts of microplastic pollution

April 26th, 2017

Microplastics are of increasing concern. They not only become more relevant as other plastic marine litter breaks down into tiny particles, they also interact with species in a range of marine habitats. A new study takes a look at how global climate change and the impact of changing ocean circulation affects the distribution of marine microplastic litter.

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How Singapore is creating more land for itself

April 25th, 2017

The island off the southern tip of Malaysia reveals the future of building in an epoch of dwindling territory.

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Sea Floor Erosion in Coral Reef Ecosystems Leaves Coastal Communities at Risk

April 24th, 2017

In the first ecosystem-wide study of changing sea depths at five large coral reef tracts in Florida, the Caribbean and Hawai’i, U.S.G.S researchers found the sea floor is eroding in all five places, and the reefs cannot keep pace with sea level rise. As a result, coastal communities protected by the reefs are facing increased risks from storms, waves and erosion.

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Nicaragua’s South Caribbean Coast Improves Readiness for Climate Change

April 24th, 2017

The effects of climate change have hit Nicaragua’s Caribbean coastal regions hard in the last decade and have forced the authorities and local residents to take protection and adaptation measures to address the phenomenon that has gradually undermined their safety and changed their way of life.

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