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

Sockeye carcasses tossed on shore over two decades spur tree growth

In a 20-year study, researchers have found that nearly 600,000 pounds of sockeye salmon carcasses tossed to the left side of a small, remote stream in southwest Alaska, helped trees on that side of the stream grow faster than their counterparts on the other side.

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How microplastics, marine aggregates and marine animals are connected

Prior research has suggested that mussels are a robust indicator of plastic debris and particles in marine environments. A new study says that’s not the case because mussels are picky eaters and have an inherent ability to choose and sort their food. Instead, the researchers have discovered that marine aggregates also called ”marine snow,” play a much bigger role in the fate of the oceans when it comes to plastic debris.

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“We are at war”: Expect almost 5 feet of sea level rise when planning for the future, leaders say

Building a road, a school, a bridge in Hampton Roads? Think about how long you want it to be around, and whether it might be underwater by then. That’s what regional planners recommend in light of sea levels projected to rise nearly 5 feet over the next century.

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A 14-year-long oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico verges on becoming one of the worst in U.S. history

News, Pollution
Oct
22

An oil spill that has been quietly leaking millions of barrels into the Gulf of Mexico has gone unplugged for so long that it now verges on becoming one of the worst offshore disasters in U.S. history. Between 300 and 700 barrels of oil per day have been spewing from a site 12 miles off the Louisiana coast since 2004.

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Beaches of Saint-Tropez hit by Mediterranean oil spill

News, Pollution
Oct
21

A containership and a ferry collided off the island of Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea, causing a three-mile long spill of heavy fuel, with French and Italian coastal authorities scrambling to contain it. The mayor of the village of Ramatuelle, which lies on the Gulf of Saint-Tropez, told AFP that 16 kilometres (10 miles) of coastline had been affected by the spill.

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Salty water causes some freshwater harmful algae to release toxins

The finding suggests that understanding the mixing of fresh and salt water, which takes place in many coastal water bodies around the world, will help researchers understand the toxic effects of these harmful algal blooms.

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Plastic pollution has increased a hundredfold in remote parts of the South Atlantic

News, Pollution
Oct
19

The amount of plastic debris in the ocean waters of the British islands in the South Atlantic — some of the most remote places on the planet — has increased hundredfold in the last 30 years, according to a new study.

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Save Lighthouse Point, a true Bahamian treasure!

Lighthouse Point is one of the last great remaining wilderness places in The Bahamas. Located at the southernmost tip of Eleuthera, it is home to incredibly diverse and unique terrestrial and marine ecosystems as well as cultural and historic resources. Unfortunately, this outstanding Bahamian treasure is at risk of being lost to externally-driven, large-scale commercial development.

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These 10 companies are flooding the planet with throwaway plastic

News, Pollution
Oct
18

Nine months, six continents, 239 cleanup events, and more than 187,000 pieces of trash later, we now have the most comprehensive snapshot to date of how corporations are contributing to the global plastic pollution problem.

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Recent / Inform

Plastic pollution has increased a hundredfold in remote parts of the South Atlantic

October 19th, 2018

The amount of plastic debris in the ocean waters of the British islands in the South Atlantic — some of the most remote places on the planet — has increased hundredfold in the last 30 years, according to a new study.

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Save Lighthouse Point, a true Bahamian treasure!

October 18th, 2018

Lighthouse Point is one of the last great remaining wilderness places in The Bahamas. Located at the southernmost tip of Eleuthera, it is home to incredibly diverse and unique terrestrial and marine ecosystems as well as cultural and historic resources. Unfortunately, this outstanding Bahamian treasure is at risk of being lost to externally-driven, large-scale commercial development.

Read More

These 10 companies are flooding the planet with throwaway plastic

October 18th, 2018

Nine months, six continents, 239 cleanup events, and more than 187,000 pieces of trash later, we now have the most comprehensive snapshot to date of how corporations are contributing to the global plastic pollution problem.

Read More

NC beach homes and coast are ‘doomed’ and residents need to get out, scientist says

October 17th, 2018

There’s a “disaster” approaching North Carolina’s coast, and it’s not a hurricane. It’s an increasingly encroaching sea, Orrin Pilkey says.

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A look at the billions of dollars behind beach renourishment: Is it worth it?

October 16th, 2018

More than $433 million has been spent on renourishing South Carolina beaches between 1954 and 2015.

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This floating pipe is trying to clean up all the plastic in the ocean

October 16th, 2018

A 2,000 foot-long floating pipe nicknamed Wilson is about to start its mission to collect all the plastic in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

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Miami meteorologist John Morales is looking for higher ground

October 16th, 2018

Weathercasters like Morales are becoming indispensable interpreters of a more chaotic, violent environment. Climate change remains taboo for many meteorologists, who often misunderstand climate science and shy away from a topic that, particularly in conservative states, is seen as political.

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Why Durban only got two Blue Flag beaches

October 15th, 2018

Durban was the first South African city to implement the international Blue Flag program.

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Scientists find missing piece in glacier melt predictions

October 15th, 2018

A new method for observing water within ice has revealed stored meltwater that may explain the complex flow behavior of some Greenland glaciers, an important component for predicting sea-level rise in a changing climate.

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Climate Diaries: The hottest climate science in the world’s coldest place

October 15th, 2018

A lot of what’s happening to sea level starts at the poles, where that ice is either liberated or sequestered … melted or frozen. NASA’s “Operation IceBridge” flies planes to Antarctica from South America to study how fast that continent’s ice is melting.

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