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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

Widening beaches might bring more hazards, researchers say

Widening beaches might be linked to an increase in accidents, according to new data. The number of ocean rescues spikes after beaches are buffed up, according to the data published in the Journal of Ocean Research.

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Devil’s Punchbowl is beautiful, but dangerous

Inform
May
4

The Oregon coast is famous for its dramatic seaside cliffs and headlands. One of the must-see spots along this photogenic shoreline is the Devil’s Punchbowl. Luring hikers into a beautiful open-sky cavern during low tide, the site fills with roiling sea water at high tide.

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Everglades under threat as Florida’s mangroves face death by rising sea level

Florida’s mangroves have been forced into a hasty retreat by sea level rise and now face being drowned, imperiling coastal communities and the prized Everglades wetlands, researchers have found.

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The State of the World’s Beaches

Erosion, Inform
May
3

Coastal zones constitute one of the most heavily populated and developed land zones in the world. Despite the utility and economic benefits that coasts provide, there is no reliable global-scale assessment of historical shoreline change trends.

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Could sunscreen be destroying our coral reefs? Hawaii lawmakers say yes

Hawaii is set to become the first state to ban the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone or octinoxate, two chemicals believed to be harmful to the environment.

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Cities from the sea: the true cost of reclaimed land

Asia is growing. Literally. From Malaysia to Dubai, luxury developments are rising on artificial islands and coastlines. Everybody wins – except the local sea life and the fishermen who depend on it

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Striking aerial photos show human impact on the natural world

Shot in Spain and southern France, these images were taken by aerial photographer Tom Hegen, who uses drones, hot air balloons, helicopters and planes to document the impact of human activity on the natural world…

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It’s not just Xolobeni: What the Australian mining company did in the Western Cape; South Africa

News, Sand Mining
Apr
29

The Australian mining company seeking the right to mine in Xolobeni in the Eastern Cape, has been lashed for its treatment of a community in the Western Cape where it has been accused of breaching its legal obligations.

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Sunlight Reduces Effectiveness of Dispersants Used in Oil Spills

Two new studies have shown that sunlight transforms oil on the ocean surface more significantly and quickly than previously thought. The phenomenon considerably limits the effectiveness of chemical dispersants, which are during oil spills to break up floating oil and reduce the amount of oil that reaches coastlines.

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Recent / Inform

Striking aerial photos show human impact on the natural world

April 30th, 2018

Shot in Spain and southern France, these images were taken by aerial photographer Tom Hegen, who uses drones, hot air balloons, helicopters and planes to document the impact of human activity on the natural world…

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It’s not just Xolobeni: What the Australian mining company did in the Western Cape; South Africa

April 29th, 2018

The Australian mining company seeking the right to mine in Xolobeni in the Eastern Cape, has been lashed for its treatment of a community in the Western Cape where it has been accused of breaching its legal obligations.

Read More

Sunlight Reduces Effectiveness of Dispersants Used in Oil Spills

April 29th, 2018

Two new studies have shown that sunlight transforms oil on the ocean surface more significantly and quickly than previously thought. The phenomenon considerably limits the effectiveness of chemical dispersants, which are during oil spills to break up floating oil and reduce the amount of oil that reaches coastlines.

Read More

The military paid for a study on sea level rise. The results were scary.

tahiti-sea-level-rise

April 28th, 2018

More than a thousand low-lying tropical islands risk becoming “uninhabitable” by the middle of the century — or possibly sooner — because of rising sea levels, upending the populations of some island nations and endangering key U.S. military assets, according to new research.

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Growing ‘dead zone’ confirmed by underwater robots in the Gulf of Oman

April 27th, 2018

New research reveals a growing ‘dead zone’ in the Gulf of Oman. Little data has been collected in the area for almost 50 years because of piracy and geopolitical tensions. Reasearchers found an area larger than Scotland with almost no oxygen left.

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County Starts Dumping-Related Clean-up Work at Goleta, Carpinteria Beaches; CA

April 26th, 2018

Two months after trucks stopped dumping loads of Montecito mud onto the shore at Goleta Beach County Park, the ocean waters remain closed because testing shows bacteria levels significantly exceed standards.

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We’re doomed’: Mayer Hillman on the climate reality no one else will dare mention

April 26th, 2018

The 86-year-old social scientist says accepting the impending end of most life on Earth might be the very thing needed to help us prolong it.

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Record concentration of microplastic in Arctic sea ice

April 25th, 2018

Experts have recently found higher amounts of microplastic in arctic sea ice than ever before. However, the majority of particles were microscopically small.

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Why Seas Are Rising Faster on the U.S. East Coast

April 24th, 2018

Scientists are unraveling the reasons why some parts of the world are experiencing sea level increases far beyond the global average. A prime example is the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, which has been experiencing “sunny day flooding” that had not been expected for decades.

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Madeira, the island of eternal springtime, and Porto Moniz lava pools

April 21st, 2018

The lava pools on the remote, northwestern tip of Madeira Island, are one of the most beautiful place to take a tip in the ocean, anywhere. Surging out of the Atlantic more than 500 Km west of Morocco, Madeira is the craggy tip of a giant volcano.

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