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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

As Florida’s toxic red tide stretches on, residents report health problems

News, Pollution
Sep
3

Doctors in southwest Florida say they’ve seen an increase in patients complaining of breathing problems.

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As waters rise, coastal megacities like Mumbai face catastrophe

Mumbai and other fast-growing coastal megacities in Asia are particularly vulnerable to climate-related flooding. Twenty-one of the world’s 31 megacities hug a coastline, 13 of which are in Asia. These cities of 10 million or more often drive their national economies and are home to both rich and poor.

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Is pumping more sand onto NC beaches causing deadly currents?

A growing number of scientists and coastal engineers worry that there’s a serious downside to beach nourishment: Unnaturally altered beaches could pose an elevated risk of injury to the very tourists that sand replenishment was meant to attract.

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Dolphin Deaths in Florida’s Red Tide Disaster Prompt Federal Investigation

Federal wildlife officials are investigating dozens of dolphin deaths off Florida’s southwest coast which has been experiencing a severe red tide.

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Spiagge Bianche (White Beaches), Rosignano Marittimo, Italy

This deceiving white sand beach gets its brilliant hue from the chemical discharge of a nearby factory.

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Scientists in Fiji examine how forest conservation helps coral reefs

Researchers from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa (UH Mānoa), WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society), and other groups are discovering how forest conservation in Fiji can minimize the impact of human activities on coral reefs and their fish populations.

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Sea Chair, Video

Sea Chair is made entirely from plastic recovered from our oceans. Together with local fishermen, the plastic is collected and made into a stool at sea.

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Three ways making a smartphone can harm the environment

Nearly five billion people worldwide will use a smartphone by 2020. Each device is made up of numerous precious metals and many of the key technological features wouldn’t be possible without them. Mining these metals is a vital activity that underpins the modern global economy. But the environmental cost can be enormous and is probably far greater than you realize.

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Hundreds of endangered turtles killed in illegal fishing net

About 300 sea turtles have died on Mexico’s southern Pacific coast after they were trapped in an abandoned illegal fishing net.

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Recent / Inform

Scientists in Fiji examine how forest conservation helps coral reefs

August 30th, 2018

Researchers from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa (UH Mānoa), WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society), and other groups are discovering how forest conservation in Fiji can minimize the impact of human activities on coral reefs and their fish populations.

Read More

Sea Chair, Video

August 30th, 2018

Sea Chair is made entirely from plastic recovered from our oceans. Together with local fishermen, the plastic is collected and made into a stool at sea.

Read More

Three ways making a smartphone can harm the environment

August 30th, 2018

Nearly five billion people worldwide will use a smartphone by 2020. Each device is made up of numerous precious metals and many of the key technological features wouldn’t be possible without them. Mining these metals is a vital activity that underpins the modern global economy. But the environmental cost can be enormous and is probably far greater than you realize.

Read More

Hundreds of endangered turtles killed in illegal fishing net

August 29th, 2018

About 300 sea turtles have died on Mexico’s southern Pacific coast after they were trapped in an abandoned illegal fishing net.

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In India’s Largest City, A Ban on Plastics Faces Big Obstacles

August 28th, 2018

Facing a scourge of plastic bags, the Indian state that includes Mumbai mandated a sweeping ban on plastic bags and other throwaway plastic items. But the chaos that followed shows the challenges of restricting a material so deeply embedded in the modern economy.

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Scientists discover hidden deep-sea coral reef off South Carolina Coast

August 28th, 2018

In South Carolina, 160 miles off Charleston’s coast a giant deep-sea coral reef system has been hiding for thousands of years. The chief scientist who helped make the discovery called it unbelievable.

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Invasive Species Are Riding on Plastic Across the Oceans

August 28th, 2018

Crustaceans and mollusks foreign to the United States have survived up to six years riding on ocean plastic trash.

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Plastic straw ban? Cigarette butts are the single greatest source of ocean trash

August 27th, 2018

Cigarette butts have long been the single most collected item on the world’s beaches, with a total of more than 60 million collected over 32 years.

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10 Beaches at risk of disappearing

August 27th, 2018

All over the world, beaches are in peril. Globally, climate change has seen sea levels rise about 8 inches since 1880. If we don’t make some sort of drastic change in our lifestyles, levels are projected to go up another one to four feet by 2100. Here’s what that means for our beloved beaches: erosion, cliff disintegration, flooding, saltwater infiltrating freshwater, and possibly, complete destruction.

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Tracking Sargassum’s ocean path could help predict coastal inundation events

August 23rd, 2018

New research explores how the Sargassum might grow while it is meandering along the currents, not just where it floats, combining both ocean physics and seaweed biology for the first time to understand the distribution patterns. Knowing could eventually help predict its arrival and impact on beaches around the world

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