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

This Irish teenager may have a solution for a plastic-free ocean

News, Pollution
Aug
2

A teenager from Ireland may have found a way to rescue our oceans from the growing plastic pollution problem.

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Non-lethal impacts of seabirds’ plastic ingestion

News, Pollution
Jul
30

A new study of seabirds that had ingested plastic debris has revealed a range of non-lethal impacts on their health and physiology. While seabird deaths due to swallowing plastic debris or becoming entangled in it have received global attention, the non-lethal effects on seabirds that survive plastic ingestion are less well-known.

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How to restore a coral reef

New guidelines drafted by a consortium of concerned experts could enable corals to adapt to changing environments and help restore declining populations in the Caribbean. The guidelines provide a definitive plan for collecting, raising, and replanting corals that maximizes their potential for adaptation.

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Radiation in parts of Marshall Islands is higher than Chernobyl

Radiation levels in parts of the Marshall Islands in the central Pacific Ocean, where the United States conducted nearly 70 nuclear tests during the Cold War, are still alarmingly high.

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Sun, Sand And Sewage: Report Shows Many U.S. Beaches Unsafe For Swimming

News, Pollution
Jul
23

A new analysis details widespread bacterial contamination at U.S. beaches, with more than half of the tested sites exceeding a federal safety threshold at least once in 2018. Nearly 60% of the more than 4,500 beaches sampled in 2018 had at least one day of unsafe bacteria levels.

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Abu Dhabi is replanting mangroves in the fight against climate change

The coastal city of Abu Dhabi is one of the most vulnerable places in the world to the impacts of climate change. It’s threatened by rising sea levels and researchers say it could be too hot to live in by the end of this century if global warming trends continue. But mangroves trees are helping the city fight the climate crisis…

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Sea level rise preparations could cost Redondo Beach, CA, nearly $300 million

Redondo Beach estimates it would cost roughly $291 million to prepare for a 5.5-foot increase in sea levels by 2100, according to a recently released study.

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Thirty years of unique data reveal what’s really killing coral reefs

Coral bleaching is not just due to a warming planet, but also a planet that is simultaneously being enriched with reactive nitrogen from sources like improperly treated sewage, and fertilizers.

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Flesh-eating bacteria kills a Memphis man who visited Florida waterways

News, Pollution
Jul
13

A Tennessee man died Sunday after he became infected with Vibrio vulnificus, a type of flesh-eating bacteria, while vacationing in Okaloosa County, Florida. Vibrio causes an estimated 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths in the United States every year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal government’s public health agency.

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Recent / Inform

Sea level rise preparations could cost Redondo Beach, CA, nearly $300 million

July 17th, 2019

Redondo Beach estimates it would cost roughly $291 million to prepare for a 5.5-foot increase in sea levels by 2100, according to a recently released study.

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Thirty years of unique data reveal what’s really killing coral reefs

July 15th, 2019

Coral bleaching is not just due to a warming planet, but also a planet that is simultaneously being enriched with reactive nitrogen from sources like improperly treated sewage, and fertilizers.

Read More

Flesh-eating bacteria kills a Memphis man who visited Florida waterways

July 13th, 2019

A Tennessee man died Sunday after he became infected with Vibrio vulnificus, a type of flesh-eating bacteria, while vacationing in Okaloosa County, Florida. Vibrio causes an estimated 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths in the United States every year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal government’s public health agency.

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As Ocean Temperatures Rise, Corals Are Steadily Moving Poleward

July 12th, 2019

Rising ocean temperatures are increasingly causing coral reefs to shift away from the equator into more temperate waters. Over the past 40 years, the number of young corals has declined by 85 percent on tropical reefs, while at the same time doubling in cooler regions, according to a recent study.

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The Best White Sand Beaches in the World

July 11th, 2019

From the Maldives to Panama City Beach, there’s something for everyone.

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In an era of extreme weather, concerns grow over dam safety

elwha-dam

July 10th, 2019

Many of the United States’ 91,000 dams are aging and sorely in need of repairs that could collectively cost tens of billions of dollars. Experts are increasingly worried that as extreme precipitation events increase, dams are at greater risk of failure, threatening lives and posing environmental risks.

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The California coast is disappearing under the rising sea. Our choices are grim

July 8th, 2019

While other regions grappled with destructive waves and rising seas, the West Coast for decades was spared by a rare confluence of favorable winds and cooler water. But lines in the sand are meant to shift. In the last 100 years, the sea rose less than 9 inches in California. By the end of this century, the surge could be greater than 9 feet.

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A massive seaweed bloom is smothering life from the Caribbean to West Africa

July 7th, 2019

For eight years, thick mats of seaweed have smothered coral reefs, trapped sea turtles and brought economic instability to coastal communities as reddish-brown gobs of foul-smelling sargassum wash onto beaches along the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and tropical Atlantic. These phenomena are symptoms of a massive seaweed bloom scientists are calling the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt.

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Beachgoers beware: Drivers pose potentially deadly danger on the sand

July 6th, 2019

Beachgoers are being urged to stay vigilant this summer amid an alarming number of injuries — and even deaths — caused by drivers on the beach. At least 12 states allow you to drive on at least some beaches.

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What happens when a country drowns? These 5 island nations will disappear first

July 5th, 2019

Global climate change is endangering small island countries, many of them developing nations, potentially harming their ability to function as independent states.

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