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

In India’s Largest City, A Ban on Plastics Faces Big Obstacles

News, Pollution
Aug
28

Facing a scourge of plastic bags, the Indian state that includes Mumbai mandated a sweeping ban on plastic bags and other throwaway plastic items. But the chaos that followed shows the challenges of restricting a material so deeply embedded in the modern economy.

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Scientists discover hidden deep-sea coral reef off South Carolina Coast

In South Carolina, 160 miles off Charleston’s coast a giant deep-sea coral reef system has been hiding for thousands of years. The chief scientist who helped make the discovery called it unbelievable.

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Invasive Species Are Riding on Plastic Across the Oceans

Inform, Pollution
Aug
28

Crustaceans and mollusks foreign to the United States have survived up to six years riding on ocean plastic trash.

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Plastic straw ban? Cigarette butts are the single greatest source of ocean trash

News, Pollution
Aug
27

Cigarette butts have long been the single most collected item on the world’s beaches, with a total of more than 60 million collected over 32 years.

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10 Beaches at risk of disappearing

All over the world, beaches are in peril. Globally, climate change has seen sea levels rise about 8 inches since 1880. If we don’t make some sort of drastic change in our lifestyles, levels are projected to go up another one to four feet by 2100. Here’s what that means for our beloved beaches: erosion, cliff disintegration, flooding, saltwater infiltrating freshwater, and possibly, complete destruction.

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Tracking Sargassum’s ocean path could help predict coastal inundation events

New research explores how the Sargassum might grow while it is meandering along the currents, not just where it floats, combining both ocean physics and seaweed biology for the first time to understand the distribution patterns. Knowing could eventually help predict its arrival and impact on beaches around the world

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Sea level rise is already eroding home values, unbeknownst to their owners

Three studies have found evidence that the threat of higher seas is also undermining coastal property values, as home buyers – particularly investors – begin the retreat to higher ground.

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Muddy waters: Exploring mangrove governance in Tanzania

At the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) in Nairobi later this month, a side event devoted specifically to mangrove preservation and restoration around the African continent’s coastlines will attract a range of stakeholders offering an opportunity to review lessons learned from research undertaken in the Rufiji Delta and mangrove ecosystems across the globe.

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Decades of chemical pollution suspected in Maine’s seal die-off

As the number of dead and stranded seals washing up on southern Maine beaches rises by the day, researchers are linking the sudden die-off to decades of chemical pollution that made the seal population vulnerable to toxins and disease.

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Recent / Inform

Sea level rise is already eroding home values, unbeknownst to their owners

August 21st, 2018

Three studies have found evidence that the threat of higher seas is also undermining coastal property values, as home buyers – particularly investors – begin the retreat to higher ground.

Read More

Muddy waters: Exploring mangrove governance in Tanzania

August 21st, 2018

At the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) in Nairobi later this month, a side event devoted specifically to mangrove preservation and restoration around the African continent’s coastlines will attract a range of stakeholders offering an opportunity to review lessons learned from research undertaken in the Rufiji Delta and mangrove ecosystems across the globe.

Read More

Decades of chemical pollution suspected in Maine’s seal die-off

August 20th, 2018

As the number of dead and stranded seals washing up on southern Maine beaches rises by the day, researchers are linking the sudden die-off to decades of chemical pollution that made the seal population vulnerable to toxins and disease.

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Ghost netting: Image emerges of decomposed turtle wrapped in plastic net

August 19th, 2018

Pictures taken from the upcoming environmental film Blue, which will be shown at the Ocean Film Festival UK & Ireland Tour, show the horrific effects of plastic pollution and ghost nets on marine life and the world’s oceans.

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Scientists testing new solution to fight Florida’s toxic red tide

August 19th, 2018

The state of Florida is at war with a toxic red tide. A tide that is killing marine life along the Sunshine State’s southwest coast and creating a stench. Scientists at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota are working on a new weapon that they call an “Ozone Treatment System.

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Shark Mystery: Where Have South Africa’s Great Whites Gone?

August 19th, 2018

The world’s most famous sharks are the great whites off Cape Town, featured in the popular “Air Jaws” series. But now these sharks have mostly gone missing, and some experts blame a fishery for depleting the smaller sharks that the great whites feed on.

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Sargassum: The seaweed deluge hitting Caribbean shores

August 18th, 2018

When waves of sargassum – a type of seaweed – washed up on Eastern Caribbean shores seven years ago, people hoped it was a one-off. Matted piles swamped coastlines from Tobago to Anguilla. Years later, the seaweed keeps on washing ashore, in larger quantities, and everything suggests 2018 could be the worst year yet.

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Acid coastal seas off US putting common fish species at risk

August 18th, 2018

Scientists have shown that coastal waters and river estuaries can exhibit unique vulnerabilities to acidification than offshore waters. This acidification can lead to disorientation and cognitive problems in some marine fish species, such as salmon, sharks, and cod.

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When Salt Water Intrusion is Not Just a Threat But a Reality, Guyana

August 18th, 2018

Guyanese farmers have been reporting salt water intrusion for a number of years.

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Sea turns red with blood after whale hunt in Faroe Islands

August 17th, 2018

Denmark is involved in a shameful practice. While it may seem incredible, even today a whale slaughtering custom continues, in the Faroe Islands. The sea is stained in red from the slaughtering of hundreds of the famous and intelligent Calderon dolphins, which are a type of Pilot whales. An intelligent dolphin that is placid and approaches humans out of friendliness.

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