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

Fifty years of decline in Queensland’s coastal sharks

Queensland’s coastal shark numbers are continuing a 50-year decline, in sharp contradiction of suggestions of ‘exploding’ shark populations, according to a new analysis.

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10 must-visit beaches in the Caribbean

Celebrate, Inform
Dec
13

Some of the following beaches made the list because they’re simply picture-perfect – like stepping into an Instagram shot. Others made the cut for the best Caribbean beaches because they have special features that make them unforgettable.

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Humans may be reversing the climate clock, by 50 million years

Our future on Earth may also be our past. Researchers show that humans are reversing a long-term cooling trend tracing back at least 50 million years. And it’s taken just two centuries.

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New Rules Ahead For Building Near Inlets, NC

New boundaries and rules governing development at about half of North Carolina’s inlets may be adopted next year.

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Gambian environmental activists take swift Action against Chinese plant polluting their ocean water

After activists said a Chinese-run fish processing plant – that arrived in 2014 – had failed to remove a pipe accused of spewing toxic waste into the sea, local youth issued an ultimatum: Dig the pipe up, or we will. They did, storming the beach.

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Industrial fisheries are starving seabirds all around the world

Industrial fisheries are starving seabirds like penguins and terns by competing for the same prey sources. Seabirds are now the most threatened bird group.

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French journalists labelled spies over Indian mining investigation

Two French journalists have been labelled spies and are the subject of a criminal investigation after they tried to report on sand mining in south India – an assignment they took up because Indian journalists had been threatened for reporting on the issue.

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California prepares policy for coastal ‘retreat’

Oceanfront homes could be demolished along California’s coastline under a groundbreaking proposal to preserve the state’s made-for-movies beaches before they’re destroyed by rising seawater. The California Coastal Commission plans to release guidance early next year for dealing with sea-level rise in residential areas.

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$18 million sand project to restore 3.5 miles of beach, Florida

Work began this week on the largest beach renourishment project in the Port Canaveral area of the five that have occurred since 1995. The $18 million, federally funded project will restore sand to 3.5 miles of beaches, stretching from Port Canaveral’s Jetty Park to south of Cocoa Beach Pier.

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Recent / Inform

French journalists labelled spies over Indian mining investigation

December 8th, 2018

Two French journalists have been labelled spies and are the subject of a criminal investigation after they tried to report on sand mining in south India – an assignment they took up because Indian journalists had been threatened for reporting on the issue.

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California prepares policy for coastal ‘retreat’

December 7th, 2018

Oceanfront homes could be demolished along California’s coastline under a groundbreaking proposal to preserve the state’s made-for-movies beaches before they’re destroyed by rising seawater. The California Coastal Commission plans to release guidance early next year for dealing with sea-level rise in residential areas.

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$18 million sand project to restore 3.5 miles of beach, Florida

December 6th, 2018

Work began this week on the largest beach renourishment project in the Port Canaveral area of the five that have occurred since 1995. The $18 million, federally funded project will restore sand to 3.5 miles of beaches, stretching from Port Canaveral’s Jetty Park to south of Cocoa Beach Pier.

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Conserving Canada’s Diverse Marine Life

December 6th, 2018

Despite the deep, cold waters, newly discovered undersea mountains off Canada’s west coast are home to a rich diversity of life. The recently designated Offshore Pacific Area of Interest, is a 140,000 square kilometre region 100 to 200 kilometres west of Vancouver Island in the province of British Columbia.

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Coastal Warning: An Unwelcome Messenger on the Risks of Rising Seas; By Orrin H. Pilkey

December 6th, 2018

Marine scientist Orrin Pilkey has long been cautioning about sea level rise and the folly of building and rebuilding along coastlines. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he talks about why an eventual retreat from oceanfront property on the U.S. coast is inevitable.

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The ‘great dying’: rapid warming caused largest extinction event ever, report says

December 6th, 2018

Up to 96% of all marine species and more than two-thirds of terrestrial species perished 252m years ago. Rapid global warming caused the largest extinction event in the Earth’s history, which wiped out the vast majority of marine and terrestrial animals on the planet, scientists have found.

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What seabirds can tell us about the tide

November 29th, 2018

A study, aimed to track tagged seabirds’ behaviour and movements along the coast, revealed that, at night, these seabirds spent a lot of their time idle on the sea surface. Using seabirds to tell us about the tide could be especially useful for the marine renewable energy industry. Generating tidal energy requires detailed knowledge of current speeds.

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Marine waste is turning the Earth into a plastic planet

November 29th, 2018

The Ocean Atlas published by the German Heinrich Boll Foundation, an independent international green think tank for policy reform and the University of Kiel’s Future Ocean Cluster of Excellence, lists the top 20 nations with the worst plastic waste mismanagement around the world.

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After a Long Boom, an Uncertain Future for Big Dam Projects

November 28th, 2018

The rise of wind and solar power, coupled with the increasing social, environmental and financial costs of hydropower projects, could spell the end of an era of big dams. But even anti-dam activists say it’s too early to declare the demise of large-scale hydro.

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How plastic waste moves in the environment

November 28th, 2018

A researcher for the first time has modeled how microplastic fibers move through the environment. The work could someday help communities better understand and reduce plastics pollution, which is a growing problem around the world.

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