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

Disappearing Beaches of India


Beaches and coasts are amazing wonders of nature. India’s coastline stretches for around 7,500 kilometers. Yet, as much as 40% of India’s coastline is eroding at an alarming level, not only in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, but also in many other beaches.

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Diverse Corals Persist, But Bioerosion Escalates in Palau’s Low-pH Waters


As the ocean absorbs atmospheric carbon dioxide released by the burning of fossil fuels, its chemistry is changing.

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Beaches in Danger: 10 Disappearing Shorelines

Erosion, Inform

When seas rise, it’s inevitable: beaches disappear. Add human interference with natural beach topography- channel dredging, sand replacement, seawalls, jetties – and it’s a recipe for disaster.

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Boracay Experiencing Beach Erosion, 70% Coral Loss; Philippines


According to a study conducted by Japanese and Filipino scientists, coral cover in Boracay Island declined by about 70.5 percent from 1988 to 2011, and the highest decrease in the 23-year period, was recorded between 2008 and 2011, as tourist arrivals rose by 38.4 percent…

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How Your Taxes Help Inflate The Value Of Coastal Properties Threatened By Climate Change


Between 1995 and 2002, the U.S. federal government spent $787 million on beach nourishment and has historically subsidized two-thirds of total nourishment costs to coastal communities. As seas rise and storms surge, replenishment costs rise. Replenishment is a losing battle, and it’s becoming more and more expensive.

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Largest Turtle Breeding Colony in the Atlantic Discovered


A huge ground survey covering nearly 600 km of Gabon’s coastline has uncovered the largest breeding colony of olive ridley turtles in the Atlantic.

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Greenland Ice Loss: Follow the Water


In Greenland, scientists who wish to understand ice loss will follow the water. Greenland mass loss is rising exponentially and leading to higher sea level rise. A video by Yale Climate Forum.

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Sudden Draining of Glacial Lakes Explained


In 2008 scientists from WHOI and the University of Washington documented for the first time how the icy bottoms of lakes atop the Greenland Ice Sheet can crack open suddenly—draining the lakes completely within hours and sending torrents of water to the base of the ice sheet thousands of feet below. Now they have found a surprising mechanism that triggers the cracks.

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Boyan Slat to Deploy ‘Longest Floating Structure in World History’ to Clean Ocean Plastic

News, Pollution

Boyan Slat, the 20-year-old CEO of The Ocean Cleanup, has officially announced that the world’s first ocean-cleaning system is set to deploy in 2016. The pilot program will be operational for at least two years in the proposed deployment location of Tsushima island in Japan.

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Recent / Inform

NOAA Study Finds Marshes, Reefs, Beaches Can Enhance Coastal Resilience


April 29th, 2015

The resilience of U.S. coastal communities to storms, flooding, erosion and other threats can be strengthened when they are protected by natural infrastructure such as marshes, reefs, and beaches, or with hybrid approaches, such as a “living shoreline”…

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Ancient Clam Beaches Not so Natural, Study Shows


April 29th, 2015

Ancient coastal Indigenous people were more than hunter-gatherers, new research shows. Researchers suggest that the Pacific Northwest is one of the few places in the world where it can be documented’ that many Indigenous peoples had sophisticated marine management.

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Coastal Light Pollution Disturbs Marine Animals, New Study Shows


April 29th, 2015

Marine ecosystems can be changed by night-time artificial lighting according to new research. The results indicate that light pollution from coastal communities, shipping and offshore infrastructure could be changing the composition of marine invertebrate communities.

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The Source of Antarctica’s Eerie Bleeding Glacier


April 29th, 2015

Antarctica’s Dry Valleys are the most arid places on Earth, but underneath their icy soils lies a vast and ancient network of salty, liquid water filled with life, a new study finds.

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Trying to Save the Oceans, One Small Grant at a Time


April 29th, 2015

Overfishing, habitat loss and pollution threaten species in so many places that research and conservation organizations cannot do all that is needed. So, with the aim of making a dent through small, targeted efforts, the New England Aquarium, in Boston, has for 15 years awarded microgrants to projects across the globe.

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Palm Beach Sea Turtles Killed During Beach Renourishment Project


April 28th, 2015

South Floridians have for years grappled with the issue of beach erosion. Condos continue to go up despite wave action that carries sand away. Residents want wide, sandy beaches — and so do turtles, who need it to nest.

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Seaweed Might Have The Power To Make The Oceans Less Acidic


April 28th, 2015

The thick, slimy brown ribbons are notorious for tangling the ankles of beachgoers and rotting in pungent piles. But kelp, according to its growing fan base, could also prove potent in protecting the health of oceans, and us.

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Grenada Braces for Impacts of Climate Change


April 28th, 2015

Over the last 25 years, the fragile Grenadian islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique have been bombarded by storms, hurricanes, higher tides and sea surges. This resulted in severe loss of mangrove vegetation along the coastline, beach erosion, damage to soil and serious threat to the local tourism industries which depend heavily on the pristine condition of the beaches and health of the marine life.

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Fishing impacts on the Great Barrier Reef


April 28th, 2015

Fishing is having a significant impact on the make-up of fish populations of the Great Barrier Reef, new research shows.

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In Paradisiacal Nicaragua, Contemplating a Canal


April 26th, 2015

In late December, workers began building access roads for the $50 billion canal. It represented enough of a step forward that it sparked protests. But the future of the project remains in question, not the least because of Lake Nicaragua itself.

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