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

Sediment Plumes Around Greenland


Toward the end of the 21st century, melting from the Greenland Ice Sheet could result in global sea level rise of 4-21 centimeters (2-8 inches). Toward refining that estimate, some scientists are taking a close look at the colorful plumes that pepper the ocean around Greenland’s perimeter.

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How Wolves Change Rivers – Video


Wolves are top predators that have far-reaching beneficial effects upon entire ecosystems — including the structure of rivers. An amazing Video narrated by George Monbiot, environmental activist and writer at Guardian UK.

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California Becomes First State to Ban Plastic Bags

News, Pollution

California Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed the nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at grocery and convenience stores, driven to action by pollution in streets and waterways.

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Earth Lost 50% Of Its Wildlife In The Past 40 Years, WWF Reports


The number of wild animals on Earth has halved in the past 40 years, according to a new analysis. Creatures across land, rivers and the seas are being decimated as humans kill them for food in unsustainable numbers, while polluting or destroying their habitats.

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Satellite Photos Show One Of The World’s Largest Lakes Disappearing


Satellite images from NASA show that over the last 14 years, one of the world’s largest inland bodies of water, the Aral Sea in Central Asia, has almost completely dried up and disappeared.

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Mafia Mixes Riverbed Sand With Beach Sand, Andhra Pradesh, India

News, Sand Mining

Sand mafia is now mixing up the beach sand with riverbed sand for construction activity in the city due to scarcity. Though the practice exists in the city for sometime on the outskirts, it has become rampant with shortage of sand.

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Breaking Bad on the Beach

Inform, Pollution

Tens of thousands of ships ply the world’s oceans, bays, and rivers. But what happens when those ships have become too old or too expensive to operate? In most cases, they end up on the shores of Asia…literally.

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Palmyra Atoll Pictures: Part of the World’s Largest Marine Reserve

Celebrate, Inform

Palmyra Atoll, a refuge for seabird breeding colonies and coral reef communities, is part of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. The national monument received a big boost this week, when U.S. President Obama announced he was expanding its borders, turning the remote area into the world’s largest marine reserve.

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Hurricane Sandy ‘s Silver Lining, A National Geographic Video


A breach torn through New York’s Fire Island by Hurricane Sandy is bringing new life in to a long-polluted ecosystem. A National Geographic video.

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Recent / Inform

A New Look At What’s In ‘Fracking’ Fluids Raises Red Flags


August 18th, 2014

Scientists are getting to the bottom of what’s in fracking fluids, with some troubling results.

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Project Serves Up Big Data To Guide Managing America’s Coastal Waters


August 18th, 2014

Researchers have given a sweeping assessment to understand how human activities are affecting estuaries, the nation’s sounds, bays, gulfs and bayous. This study of the changes in land cover, river flow, pollution and nutrient levels offers a comprehensive look at the state of America’s estuaries.

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Protecting America’s Underwater Serengeti


August 17th, 2014

U.S. President Barack Obama has proposed to more than double the world’s no-fishing areas to protect what some call America’s underwater Serengeti, a series of California-sized swaths of Pacific Ocean where 1,000-pound marlin cruise by 30-foot-wide manta rays around underwater mountains filled with rare or unique species.

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“El Expolio De La Arena”


August 16th, 2014

In this original version, investigative journalist Cristina Sáez, writing for leading spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, exposes how extensive, detrimental, silenced yet utterly pervasive “The pillaging of beach sand” has become.

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Australia Great Barrier Reef Outlook “Poor And Deteriorating”


August 14th, 2014

The outlook for Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is poor despite conservation efforts, with further deterioration expected in coming years, a report says.

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9 Houses That Prove Your Dream Home Is Also A Green Home


August 13th, 2014

“Green building” is an effort to curb the environmental toll of inefficient homes, and it’s taking hold in the construction sector. Nine architects talk about their stunning projects that are not only sustainable, but beautiful too…

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Immediate Aftermath Of An Oil Spill


August 13th, 2014

The fate of oil during the first day after an accidental oil spill is still poorly understood, with researchers often arriving on the scene only after several days. New findings from a field experiment carried out in the North Sea provide valuable insight that could help shape the emergency response in the immediate wake of disasters.

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Matanzas-Riachuelo River Basin Clean Up Effort Hindered


August 13th, 2014

The 64-km Matanzas-Riachuelo river cuts across 14 Buenos Aires municipalities. The basin houses a number of chemical manufactures and industrial factories. Two centuries of neglect and a complex web of political and economic interests are hindering a clean-up plan that requires a broad, concerted effort.

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Risks To Penguin Populations Analyzed


August 13th, 2014

A major study of all penguin populations suggests the birds are at continuing risk from habitat degradation.

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Climate Effects Of Keystone XL Significantly Underestimated


August 11th, 2014

The U.S. State Department’s final environmental review of the Keystone XL Pipeline may have underestimated carbon dioxide emissions associated with the pipeline by as much as four times, according to a new study.

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