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

South Africa: Setback for Giant West Coast Mine Project

News, Sand Mining
Jan
22

The government has rejected an application by a controversial Australian mining company for a huge expansion of its existing Tormin heavy mineral sands mine near Koekenaap on the West Coast. Tormin has been in operation since October 2013, produces heavy sands minerals from the beach.

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Sewage spill closes eight Monterey beaches, CA

News, Pollution
Jan
22

A massive sewage spill at the Monterey One Water wastewater treatment facility early Saturday morning has closed eight beaches. Approximately 4.9 million gallons of sewage spilled from the wastewater treatment facility.

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Meet ‘King Marcio’, the man who lived in a ‘sand castle’ for 22 years

Celebrate, Inform
Jan
21

A Brazilian man managed to avoid high rents for 22 years in the upscale district of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by living in a sand castle.

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Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching has started early, biologist says

Warm water has already begun bleaching coral on the Great Barrier Reef, weeks ahead of the period with highest forecast risk. Satellite data suggest widespread bleaching is possible by March.

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With China’s Ban on Waste Imports, Europe Announces New Recycling Initiatives

News, Pollution
Jan
20

In the wake of China’s ban on the import of foreign garbage, which took effect earlier this month, countries across the globe are scrambling to figure out what to do with the thousands of tons of trash piling up at their ports. Now, Europe has announced it is launching an aggressive new recycling initiative to reduce plastic waste and garbage exports.

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Public Health Closes Some Santa Barbara County Beaches, Ocean Waters After Testing

News, Pollution
Jan
20

Ocean water samples taken on Tuesday were tested for bacteria levels and test results reveal that levels of bacteria do exceed standard levels in ocean water at some beaches.

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California sea lion population rebounded to new highs

California sea lions have fully rebounded under the protection of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, with their population on the West Coast reaching carrying capacity in 2008 before unusually warm ocean conditions reduced their numbers, according to the first comprehensive population assessment of the species.

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Hyams Beach, Australia: Beach with the whitest sand in the world

Erosion, Inform
Jan
16

The whitest sand in the world: it’s a claim to fame Hyams Beach on Australia’s New South Wales South Coast has enjoyed for years, even securing it a place in the Guinness World Records.

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Drones confirm importance of Costa Rican waters for sea turtles

A new drone-enabled population survey – the first ever on sea turtles – shows that larger-than-anticipated numbers of turtles aggregate in waters off Costa Rica’s Ostional National Wildlife Refuge, making it one of the most important nesting beaches in the world. Scientists estimate turtle densities may reach up to 2,086 animals per square kilometer.

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Recent / Inform

Public Health Closes Some Santa Barbara County Beaches, Ocean Waters After Testing

January 20th, 2018

Ocean water samples taken on Tuesday were tested for bacteria levels and test results reveal that levels of bacteria do exceed standard levels in ocean water at some beaches.

Read More

California sea lion population rebounded to new highs

January 18th, 2018

California sea lions have fully rebounded under the protection of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, with their population on the West Coast reaching carrying capacity in 2008 before unusually warm ocean conditions reduced their numbers, according to the first comprehensive population assessment of the species.

Read More

Hyams Beach, Australia: Beach with the whitest sand in the world

January 16th, 2018

The whitest sand in the world: it’s a claim to fame Hyams Beach on Australia’s New South Wales South Coast has enjoyed for years, even securing it a place in the Guinness World Records.

Read More

Drones confirm importance of Costa Rican waters for sea turtles

January 16th, 2018

A new drone-enabled population survey – the first ever on sea turtles – shows that larger-than-anticipated numbers of turtles aggregate in waters off Costa Rica’s Ostional National Wildlife Refuge, making it one of the most important nesting beaches in the world. Scientists estimate turtle densities may reach up to 2,086 animals per square kilometer.

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Rising temperatures turning major sea turtle population female

January 12th, 2018

Scientists have used a new research approach to show that warming temperatures are turning one of the world’s largest sea turtle colonies almost entirely female, running the risk that the colony cannot sustain itself in coming decades, newly published research concludes.

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South Carolina wants offshore ‘no drill’ oil exemption just like Florida

January 11th, 2018

Gov. Henry McMaster is asking the Trump administration to exempt South Carolina from offshore drilling, saying the state’s tourism-rich coast is too precious an entity to put at risk.

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Only in Greenland: A beach for skiing and sledding

January 11th, 2018

Sailing across the clear blue sea from the west coast of Greenland, a lush green island surrounded by dazzling white icebergs comes into view. Siorarsuit beach, which translated means “The Great Sand,” is a beach that’s particularly dramatic in the depths of winter, when a covering of snow makes skiing down to the water a real possibility.

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Ocean Acidification Changing Mussel Shell Structure

January 8th, 2018

For thousands of years, California mussel shells have been made up of long, cylindrical calcite crystals organized in neat, vertical rows. But scientists have found that as ocean acidification has accelerated over the past 15 years, these shells have undergone dramatic structural changes, being built out of unorganized, uneven minerals instead.

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Monaco’s $2.3bn project to expand into Mediterranean Sea

January 8th, 2018

Now construction has begun on a €2 billion ($2.3 billion) project to extend the natural contour of Monaco’s coastline a further 15 acres into the Mediterranean.

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Sanchi: Burning tanker off Chinese coast in danger of exploding

January 8th, 2018

There are fears of an environmental disaster in the East China Sea as a tanker continues leaking oil two days after colliding with a cargo ship.

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