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

You Can’t Go Home Again: Rebuilding Lives After Fukushima

Following the 2011 Fukushima meltdown, two photojournalists made multiple trips to the no-go zone, photographing former residents of the region nearly five years later.

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Vulnerable Nations Call For More Access to Climate Funds

Finance ministers from the 20 countries most vulnerable to climate change have formed a group to call for greater access to climate finance for adaptation and mitigation in the face of the most devastating effects of global warming.

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Sea Turtles Face Plastic Pollution Peril

News, Pollution
Oct
9

A new global review that set out to investigate the hazards of marine plastic pollution has warned that all seven species of marine turtles can ingest or become entangled in the discarded debris that currently litters the oceans, and nesting beaches.

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4 Hidden Causes of Dam Failures

Erosion, Inform
Oct
9

South Carolina is the latest place to suffer from a wave of dam catastrophes.

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Scientists: Major Coral Bleaching Crisis Spreads Worldwide

The bleaching of colorful coral is spreading into a worldwide, devastating crisis, scientists say, and they predict it will likely get worse.

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Bronx Artist Transforms Discarded Plastic Into Playful Sculptures

Daniel Lanzilotta started collecting plastic on the beaches of southern France. While his son played, the Bronx native collected the often tiny fragments of plastic he found in the sand, and soon began pocketing these items and making them into sculptures. Over the course of several years, as fresh debris washed up on the shore every day, he realized what a huge problem plastic pollution is for the environment.

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Living Gallery to Help Conserve Mangroves in Singapore

An area will be set aside at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve coastal trail, for a living gallery of mangrove trees, comprising about half of the true species in the world, in a move to conserve these plants.

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NOAA awards $1.1 Million to Support Coastal Communities Facing Changing Sea Levels and Coastal Flooding

NOAA has awarded more than $1.1 million for research to give coastal communities new ways to incorporate natural infrastructure, such as restored wetlands, into their coastal resilience planning for sea level rise and coastal flooding.

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The Predator Survives – But The Ecosystem Crashes

What do killer whales, polar bears and humans have in common? They are adaptable predators with the ability to select new prey when their favourite food is in low supply. But this change can disrupt entire ecosystems.

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Recent / Inform

Blooming Baltic Sea

August 23rd, 2015

Agricultural and industrial run-off from European countries bordering the Baltic Sea also contributes excess nutrients. Nutrient loads to the Baltic have been decreasing since 1980 and coastal areas have seen improvement. Concentrations in the open sea, however, have not changed much.

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Summerland Beach Oil Prompts Health Warning and Beach Closure, CA

August 23rd, 2015

The decision to close Summerland Beach at this time was due to the volume of oil on the beach and sand, the nature of the oil (more liquid and mixed in the water and across sand as opposed to solid tar balls which are more easily avoidable) and intermittent strong petroleum odors at a level that may cause health effects.

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Coastal Dune Restoration at Point Reyes National Seashore

August 22nd, 2015

Point Reyes National Seashore, California, has completed planning to continue coastal dune restoration to restore up to 600 acres of native dune habitat.

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10 Islands Every Surfer Should Visit

August 21st, 2015

Some are warm, some are cold, all are extraordinary beautiful. A surfline slideshow.

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Computer Models Show Significant Tsunami Strength for Ventura and Oxnard, California

August 20th, 2015

According to their 3-D models, a magnitude 7.7 earthquake on faults located offshore Ventura would result in many parts of the regional coastline being inundated a few kilometers inland by a tsunami wave.

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More Beaches Closed Due To Pollution

August 19th, 2015

A newly released annual report by the Natural Resources Defense Council shows that beach closings due to bacterial contamination reached unusually high numbers last year for the second year in a row.

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World’s Most Crowded Beaches- In Pictures

August 19th, 2015

A slideshow featured by Weather Channel.

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Stinking Mats of Seaweed Piling up on Caribbean Beaches

August 18th, 2015

The picture-perfect beaches and turquoise waters that people expect on their visits to the Caribbean are increasingly being fouled by mats of decaying seaweed that attract biting sand fleas and smell like rotten eggs.

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Derelict Boats Are Subject of Survey

August 17th, 2015

Abandoned and derelict boats dot waterways and marshes all along the N.C. coast, in some cases creating hazards to navigation and other safety or environmental problems, but aside from a handful of local regulations in various communities little has been done to address the problem.

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Coastal Erosion: A series of Special Reports

August 17th, 2015

Coastal erosion in the UK: ITV News Meridian Correspondent Malcolm Shaw takes a look at the issue in a series of special video reports.

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