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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

Japanese slow earthquakes could shed light on tsunami generation

Inform
Jun
16

Understanding slow-slip earthquakes in subduction zone areas may help researchers understand large earthquakes and the creation of tsunamis, according to researchers who used data from instruments placed on the seafloor and in boreholes east of the Japanese coast.

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The fight against climate change: four cities leading the way in the Trump era

New York City, Houston, Miami and San Francisco have all taken steps to mitigate the risks associated with rising sea levels and global temperatures. Are their successes a blueprint for action at the state and local level?

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Ocean Oddities: Pacific’s Plastic Island

News, Pollution
Jun
10

Ever since people invented trash, the sea has served as our favorite dump.

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UN Ocean Conference wraps up with actions to restore ocean health, protect marine life

The first-ever United Nations summit on oceans, June 9th, wrapped up with a global agreement to reverse the decline of the ocean’s health, and more than 1,300 pledged actions for protecting the blue.

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As day of reckoning closes in on Cemex, the city of Marina prepares to attack.

In the fight to shut down the Cemex sand mine in Marina, the lines in the sand have been drawn. Diplomacy, up until now, has not borne fruit, and a looming battle is starting to take shape. On June 6, City Council voted 5-0 to authorize City Attorney Rob Wellington to explore legal options that would argue that the Cemex mine is a “public nuisance” due to its erosion impacts

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How the Arctic Ocean became saline

Inform
Jun
7

The Arctic Ocean was once a gigantic freshwater lake. Only after the land bridge between Greenland and Scotland had submerged far enough did vast quantities of salt water pour in from the Atlantic.

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Gabon Sets Plan for Africa’s Largest Marine Reserve

The African nation of Gabon has announced the creation of the continent’s largest network of marine protected areas, covering 20,500 square miles.

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What caused the most toxic algal bloom ever observed in Monterey Bay?

In spring 2015, the West Coast of North America experienced one of the most toxic algal blooms on record. A new article shows that, at least in Monterey Bay, this bloom became particularly toxic because of an unusually low ratio of silicate to nitrate in the waters of the bay.

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Marine reserves help mitigate against climate change, say scientists

Highly protected marine reserves can help mitigate against the impacts of climate change, a study by a team of international scientists has concluded.

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Recent / Inform

Gabon Sets Plan for Africa’s Largest Marine Reserve

June 6th, 2017

The African nation of Gabon has announced the creation of the continent’s largest network of marine protected areas, covering 20,500 square miles.

Read More

What caused the most toxic algal bloom ever observed in Monterey Bay?

June 6th, 2017

In spring 2015, the West Coast of North America experienced one of the most toxic algal blooms on record. A new article shows that, at least in Monterey Bay, this bloom became particularly toxic because of an unusually low ratio of silicate to nitrate in the waters of the bay.

Read More

Marine reserves help mitigate against climate change, say scientists

June 6th, 2017

Highly protected marine reserves can help mitigate against the impacts of climate change, a study by a team of international scientists has concluded.

Read More

Business View: ‘No Good Reason For Drilling’

May 31st, 2017

Every aspect of offshore drilling, from exploration to transporting the product from the drilling site, has implications for marine life and coastal communities.

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An Evaluation of the Ongoing Impacts of Sand Mining at the CEMEX Lapis Sand Plant in Marina, California on the Southern Monterey Bay Shoreline; By Robert S. Young, PhD

May 29th, 2017

The City of Marina commissioned this report to assist in its management and decision‐making for coastal property and resources within the City’s jurisdiction. This report provides a review and synthesis of available documentary information and scientific literature addressing the impact of current sand mining activities within southern Monterey Bay.

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In Next Decades, Frequency of Coastal Flooding Will Double Globally

May 29th, 2017

The frequency and severity of coastal flooding throughout the world will increase rapidly and eventually double in frequency over the coming decades even with only moderate amounts of sea level rise, according to a new study released in “Scientific Reports.”

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Blue Whale Found Dead On Northern California Beach Likely Struck By Ship

May 28th, 2017

A blue whale that washed ashore in northern California was struck by a ship, experts believe.

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Top Beach Hazards: How to Stay Safe on the Sand

May 27th, 2017

Beach hazards can vary by location and change over time. So what do you really need to be worried about? Several experts weigh in with their top picks.

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A tempestuous isle of 1,000 shipwrecks

May 26th, 2017

Between 500 and 1,000 shipwrecks were recorded around Quebec’s isolated Magdalen Islands – and the descendants of the resilient survivors live to tell their stories.

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The world is running out of sand

May 23rd, 2017

It’s one of our most widely used natural resources, but it’s scarcer than you think…

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