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 Floating Food Barge Is Nourishing Communities For Free

The vessel and project, named Swale, is a collaborative, floating food forest that’s dedicated to rethinking New Yorkers’ relationship with the environment and providing them with fresh, healthy food.

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Vietnamese beaches hit by worst toxic chemical spill have been deemed safe for swimming

News, Pollution
Aug
23

The government seems to be flailing in its attempt to convince people that the beaches along Vietnam’s central coast are recovering from a devastating toxic chemical spill, that killed an estimated 115 tons of fish off the central coast.

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Sand scarcity hits Mumbai’s first artificial beach project

The plan for Mumbai’s first artificial beach off Marine Drive faces a challenge due to huge shortage of sand.

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Seawalls, coastal forests show mixed effectiveness at reducing deaths and damage from tsunami

mark edward harris japan tsunami

Following the tsunami in 1933, coastal towns in Japan began to construct “tsunami seawalls” to protect lives and property from this repeated hazard. After the death and destruction of 2011, the effectiveness of tsunami seawalls has been called into question.

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Will Cinque Terre turn away tourists?

The fishing villages of Cinque Terre, Italy, now rely solely on tourism, but ironically, the only way to preserve them might be to cut the number of visitors by half.

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Officials, residents, researchers look for answers to beach erosion

Erosion, Inform
Aug
21

Lake Michigan water has risen and fallen, like a living, changing organism, but there is little doubt the combination of rising water and manmade structures has created a problem. Soon, there may be plans to stop the devastating effects of beach erosion, but getting to a consensus on what to do and who should pay for immediate and long-term solutions shifts like the sand beneath dozens of structures along the shoreline.

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Sri Lankan mangroves respond to conservation plan

A year after Sri Lanka launched a mangrove conservation plan, about half of its 37,000 hectares of mangrove forests are in a various stage of revival, officials say.

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Tanzania: Total Plastics Use Ban Plan By Next January Remains

News, Pollution
Aug
21

The government has reiterated that it won’t back down on its decision to ban the use of plastic bags effective January next year.

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Cubans bemoan trashing of island’s beaches

Inform, Pollution
Aug
21

Litter is a problem virtually everywhere in the world. But the trashing of Cuba’s world-class beaches by beachgoers has become so extreme, that tourists are complaining and Cubans bemoan it as a symptom of something amiss in a nation that’s long cherished cleanliness, order and mutual respect.

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Recent / Inform

African Fisheries Plundered by Foreign Fleets

July 2nd, 2016

A study to determine how much fish had been taken out of the world’s oceans since 1950 in order to better avoid depleting the remaining populations of fish, found that the global catch was 40 percent higher than officially reported.

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As sea level rises, Hudson River wetlands may expand

June 30th, 2016

In the face of climate change impact and inevitable sea level rise, scientists studying New York’s Hudson River estuary have forecast new tidal wetlands, comprising perhaps 33 percent more wetland area by the year 2100.

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Unable to Endure Rising Seas, Alaskan Villages Stuck in Limbo

June 30th, 2016

A number of Alaska Native villages have been impacted so severely by these climate-induced threats, they have decided to relocate. Yet there is no agency designated to pay for and help implement an entire community’s move.

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New study shows impact of human-made structures on Louisiana’s coastal wetlands

June 29th, 2016

As Louisiana’s wetlands continue to disappear at an alarming rate, a new study has pinpointed the human-made structures that disrupt the natural water flow and threaten these important ecosystems. The findings have important implications for New Orleans and other coastal cities that rely on coastal wetlands to serve as buffer from destructive extreme weather events.

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Seagrass a crucial weapon against coastal erosion

June 27th, 2016

Seagrass beds help prevent coastal erosion in a number of ways, including by stabilising sediment in the ocean.

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Thirty Million, a documentary from Raw Cinematics

June 27th, 2016

Thirty Million People. A statistic. But this statistic is made up of individuals. Thirty Million is a 35 minute documentary on the effects sea-level rise and climate change will have on the people of Bangladesh.

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Bill Marks Shoals as Sources for Beach Sand, NC

June 27th, 2016

Senate leaders hit the brakes last week on a fast-moving set of amendments to state environmental laws with several coastal-related provisions, including one that would for the first time target North Carolina’s three great capes as a sources of sand for beach re-nourishment.

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Day at the beach leaves Texas man with flesh-eating bacteria

June 27th, 2016

Vibrio bacteria live naturally in certain coastal waters and are present in higher concentrations between May and October when water temperatures are warmer. When ingested, it can lead to an illness in humans called fibrosis.

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An expanded Panama Canal opens for giant ships

June 26th, 2016

A mammoth ship bearing 9,472 containers, on Sunday will become the first vessel to officially pass through the new expanded Panama Canal, a $5.25 billion project designed to modernize a 102-year-old landmark. Others worry about the ability of the nearly 300 canal pilots to safely guide the new giant ships through the snug locks and channels.

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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

June 26th, 2016

Explaining the formation of the dunes and the two islands.

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